The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. He was fond of him in the abstract. Mrs." said Bob loftily. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. but preferred him at a distance. In face. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. Jackson intervened. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. "All right." Bob was in Donaldson's. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. Mike was her special ally." "Considering there are eight old colours left. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers." "We aren't in the same house. I bet he does. "Anyhow. . who had shown signs of finishing it." she said. anyway. His third remark was of a practical nature. Mike Jackson was tall for his age. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers. and the missing member of the family appeared. "I bet he gets in before you. if he sweats." This was mere stereo. He might get his third. "Go on with your breakfast." The aspersion stung Marjory. "Hullo. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. Bob disdained to reply."Wrykyn will do him a world of good. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis." he said." she said. Last year he had been tried once or twice." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. he was curiously like his brother Joe. you little beast. His figure was thin and wiry." she muttered truculently through it. Marjory. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. He was a sound bat. That's one comfort. This year it should be all right. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. Marjory gave tongue again. "sorry I'm late." was his reference to the sponge incident. Marjory. The door opened. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. He was evidently going to be very tall some day.

and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama. in six-eight time. Saunders. So was father. you're going to Wrykyn. the eldest of the family. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. "Mike. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. aged three."I say. you know." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" ." From Ella. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. Mike Wryky. Joe's style. "All the boys were there. "Good. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow." she said. as follows: "Mike Wryky." shouted Marjory. Mr. "I say. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. assisted by the gardener's boy. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast. Gladys Maud Evangeline. like Mike. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so. Mike looked round the table. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term. the professional. "Mike. Whereat Gladys Maud. There was nothing the matter with Bob." began Mr. ages ago. you're going to Wrykyn next term. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. Jackson believed in private coaching. obliged with a solo of her own composition. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. but the style was there already. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. Saunders. put a green baize cloth over that kid. It was a great moment. But he was not a cricket genius. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term. sound article. suddenly drew a long breath. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. In Bob he would turn out a good. with improvements." "Is he. "Mike. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on." From Phyllis." he said. was engaged in putting up the net. somebody." "Oh." groaned Bob. Mike put on his pads. and every spring since Joe. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. Mike was his special favourite. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. what's under that dish?" "Mike. The strength could only come with years.

" Marjory sat down again beside the net. only all I say is don't count on it. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. It's quite likely that it will. we'll hope for the best." "Yes." "But Mike's jolly strong. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. but I meant next term. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. Saunders? He's awfully good. in a manner of speaking. That's what he'll be playing for. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. a sort of pageant." said the professional. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. It's all there. you see. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. and nineteen perhaps. as she returned the ball. I was only saying don't count on it. Going to a public school. miss. "Well. He's got as much style as Mr. especially at . Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. didn't he. you see. What are they like?" "Well. It would be a record if he did. and that's where the runs come in. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. too. Saunders?" she asked. To-day. miss. Master Mike? Play. he was playing more strongly than usual. The whole thing is. Still. perhaps. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself. I'm not saying it mightn't be. Don't you think he might. There's a young gentleman. miss. it was all there. isn't he? He's better than Bob. "Next term!" he said. and watched more hopefully. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there."School team. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. Joe's got. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years." As Saunders had said. every bit. Ready. miss. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. You know these school professionals. miss. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term." Saunders looked a little doubtful. Saunders. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife. "He hit that hard enough." "No. and it stands to reason they're stronger. I don't. miss. it's this way. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting." "Ah. with Master Mike.

Donaldson's. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. And as Marjory. The train gathered speed. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. It might be true that some day he would play for England. and now the thing had come about.the beginning of the summer term. and his reflections. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. Mothers. He wore a bowler hat. Gladys Maud cried. Phyllis. On the other hand. is no great hardship. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. nor profound. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. and Mrs. Meanwhile. Mr.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. Bob. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. with rather a prominent nose. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. there was Bob. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. though evidently some years older. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. He was alone in the carriage. in his opinion. and he was nothing special. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. by all accounts. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. was to board the train at East Wobsley. his magazines. He had a sharp face. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. He was excited. Bob. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. was on the verge of the first eleven. in time to come down with a handsome tip). and carried a small . Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. frankly bored with the whole business. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. According to Bob they had no earthly. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. the train drew up at a small station. The latter were not numerous. The air was full of last messages. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. While he was engaged on these reflections. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. however. but then Bob only recognised one house. the village idiot. smiling vaguely.

there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. you know. but. which is always fatal. let him ask for it. I regret to say. sir. then. got up and looked through the open window. and took the seat opposite to Mike. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle." said Mike to himself. He opened the door. sir. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. and at the next stop got out." "Thank you. "Porter. . lying snugly in the rack. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him." "Because." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. That explained his magazineless condition. Mike acted from the best motives. but. And here. and finally sat down. Anyhow. the bag had better be returned at once. instead. The other made no overtures. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. sir. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment. The trainwas already moving quite fast." "Here you are. and wondered if he wanted anything. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property. thought Mike." "No chance of that. He realised in an instant what had happened." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. stared at Mike again. He did not like the looks of him particularly. He seemed about to make some remark. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window. Besides. He was only travelling a short way. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. he seemed to carry enough side for three. If he wanted a magazine. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. The fellow had forgotten his bag.portmanteau. Judging by appearances. "Good business. after all. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag.

and the other jumped into the carriage.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations. who happened to be in the line of fire. "Hullo. "I chucked it out. The head was surmounted by a bowler. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters." The guard blew his whistle." said Mike. which did not occur for a good many miles. "There's nothing to laugh at. It hit a porter. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him." "It wasn't that. "The fact is. dash it. ." The situation was becoming difficult." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station. looking out of the window. and." said Mike. and said as much. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity. "Don't _grin_. I say. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway. "Have you changed carriages. you little beast." he shouted. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny. "I thought you'd got out there for good. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. "Then. What you want is a frightful kicking. escaped with a flesh wound. "I'm awfully sorry. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow." said the stranger. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again. Then it ceased abruptly." Against his will." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity.(Porter Robinson. though not intentionally so. or what?" "No." said Mike hurriedly. This was one of them. Mike grinned at the recollection." explained Mike.

Gazeka?" "Yes. and it's at a station miles back. By the way. never mind. "He and Wain never get on very well. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. "I've made rather an ass of myself. though not aggressive. It's bound to turn up some time. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term. only he hadn't really. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. I mean. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. "Hullo. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all. there you are. it's a bit thick. thinking he'd got out. "I swear. It's just the sort . He's in your house. He realised that school politics were being talked. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's. Mike. They were discussing Wain's now. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. it's all right. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. Lots of things in it I wanted. I say. and yet they have to be together. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. "It must be pretty rotten for him. all the same." "Frightful nuisance."Hullo." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. Good cricketer and footballer. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required. He grinned again. are you in Wain's?" he said. "I say." "You're a bit of a rotter. Bob." "Oh. "Oh. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. then it's certain to be all right. holidays as well as term." said Bob. and all that sort of thing. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. They'll send it on by the next train." "I mean. what happened was this. rather lucky you've met." agreed Firby-Smith. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank." "Frightful. if I were in Wyatt's place. His eye fell upon Mike's companion." said Bob. listening the while. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves." "Oh. I should rot about like anything." "Naturally. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt." said Mike. He took up his magazine again.

So long. To the man who knows. and so on. and. Silly idea. which is your dorm. Hullo. and looked about him.of life he'll hate most. Go in which direction he would. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob. . In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train." Mike looked out of the window." he said. Mike. it is simplicity itself. and tell you all about things. But here they were alone. leaving him to find his way for himself." he said. and lost his way." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. has no perplexities. and it's the only Christian train they run." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. on alighting. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place." he concluded airily. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. and a straw hat with a coloured band. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. Mike made for him. Crossing the square was a short. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre. with a happy inspiration. a blue blazer. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. Mike started out boldly. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. Plainly a Wrykynian. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. Probably Wain will want to see you. Go straight on. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. See you later. It was Wrykyn at last. here we are. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea. They'll send your luggage on later. I think you'd better nip up to the school. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians. all more or less straight. "Heaps of them must come by this line." Bob looked at Mike. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find.

He's in Donaldson's." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging." said Mike. too?" "I played a bit at my last school. And . and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease." added Mike modestly. square-jawed face. you're going to the school. please. then?" asked Mike. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train." said Mike. He felt that they saw the humour in things. are you Wyatt. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers. "Pity." "Oh." said Mike awkwardly. There's no close season for me. you know. it was really awfully rotten bowling."Can you tell me the way to the school." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. you know." he said." "Are you there." said the stranger." "I know. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. You know. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. You can't quite raise a team. Only a private school. "It was only against kids. So you're the newest make of Jackson." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. latest model. this is fame." said the other. Any more centuries?" "Yes. "You look rather lost. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. A stout fellow. "Oh. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes. "How many?" "Seven altogether. How did you know my name. "That's pretty useful. There was something singularly cool and genial about them. "Hullo. He had a pleasant." said Mike. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing. shuffling. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's.

To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground. At Emsworth. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. it's jolly big. I was just going to have some tea." said Mike cautiously. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. "He's all right. I believe." "All the same." "Oh." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at." said Mike. That's his." said Mike. the grounds. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. You come along. Look here. though no games were played on it. The next terrace was the biggest of all. where. "That's Wain's. They skirted the cricket field. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. Mike followed his finger. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. I know. a beautiful piece of turf." said Wyatt. walking along the path that divided the two terraces." "Yes." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. We shall want some batting in the house this term.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much. thanks awfully." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's." he said. cut out of the hill. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. He felt out of the picture. He's head of Wain's. which gave me a bit of an advantage. answering for himself. "I say. but that's his misfortune. And my pater always has a pro. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer. We all have our troubles." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school. Let's go in here. At the top of the hill came the school. and took in the size of his new home. down in the Easter holidays. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term. Everything looked so big--the buildings. too. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. He was glad that he had met Wyatt." said Wyatt. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome. a shade too narrow . everything." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. when they met. He only knew that he had received a letter from home. but Bob did not know this. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. and his batting was undeniable. it is apt to throw us off our balance. Silence. Mike had skipped these years. please." "Cake?" "Thanks. to give him good advice. and if it comes before we are prepared for it.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. As a rule. It did not make him conceited. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules." said Mike. at school. Bob was changing into his cricket things. "Oh. and his conscience smote him. "Well. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. There is nothing more heady than success. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. Mike arrived. all right. He was older than the average new boy. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. all right")." said Mike." . in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. Beyond asking him occasionally. "How many lumps?" "Two. "Sugar?" asked Bob. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. "Thanks. "Oh. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. if only for one performance.

thanks. Mike. making things worse. "Yes?" said Mike coldly. "He said he'd look after you. "Yes. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. you've got on so well at cricket. of course. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. "It's only this. "He needn't trouble. "You've been all right up to now. I'm not saying anything against you so far. Jackson. while Bob." he said." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon." said Bob. in the third and so on." said Mike cautiously. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. "Like him?" "Yes. "I can look after myself all right." said Bob. What I mean to say is. You know. I'm not saying a word against you so far.Silence. Bob pulled himself together." said Bob. "You know. "I shouldn't--I mean. I should take care what . Only you see what I mean." "What do you mean?" said Mike." Mike's feelings were too deep for words." added Bob. "What!" said Mike. and spoke crushingly. Look after him! Him!! M." he said at length. "Oh. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good. filled his cup." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you." said Mike." he said. "Look here. outraged. if you don't watch yourself.

But don't you go doing it. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. but still----" "Still what?" "Well. I'm going over to the nets. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. A good innings at the third eleven net. he's an awfully good chap. "I've been hearing all about you. young man. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him.") "Come up to my study. He's never been dropped on yet. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. young man. spoke again. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody. so said nothing. "I promised I would. He's that sort of chap. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. I wanted to see you. He doesn't care a hang what he does. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you. though. it doesn't matter much for him." Mike shuffled. That youth. "Ah. You'd better be going and changing. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself." "What do you mean?" "'re doing with Wyatt. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. Stick on here a bit. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. of course. "What rot!" said Mike. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after. met Mike at the door of Wain's. because he's leaving at the end of the term. if you want any more tea. I mean. I've got to be off myself. He felt very sore against Bob. Thing is. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. Not that he would try to. all spectacles and front teeth. (Mike disliked being called "young man. Don't cheek your . "You're a frightful character from all accounts." he said." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude." Mike followed him in silence to his study. Don't make a frightful row in the house. "All right." said the Gazeka. But don't let him drag you into anything.

with or without an air-pistol. he walked out of the room. "Is that you. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. He would have given much to be with him. Wash." said Wyatt. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall." "Are you going out?" "I am. but it was not so easy to do it. So long. and up to his dormitory to change. Anyhow. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. He got out of bed and went to the window. He sat up in bed." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. if he had been at home. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. I shall be deadly. Specially as there's a good moon. too. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. wriggled out. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. but he had never felt wider awake. You'll find that useful when the time comes. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. would just have suited Mike's mood. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt." And Wyatt. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. you can't. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. by a slight sound. Like Eric. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. It was a lovely night. He opened his eyes.elders and betters. "Hullo. Cut along. Overcoming this feeling. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton." he said." said Wyatt." "I say. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. not with shame and remorse. and the second time he gave up the struggle. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. but with rage and all that sort of thing. he burned. That's all. as I'm morally certain to be some day. just the sort of night on which. "When I'm caught. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. The room was almost light. and hitting it into space every time. you stay where you are. "No. increased. but he . He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. Mustn't miss a chance like this. or night rather. of wanting to do something actively illegal. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act.

All thought of risk left him. Wain's. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. And this was where the trouble began. and set it going. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. very loud and nasal. _". A voice accompanied the banging. He was not alarmed.. the other into the boys' section. Then a beautiful.realised that he was on parole. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. Mr. After which.. It would be quite safe. Mike recognised it as Mr. Down the stairs. He finished it. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . after a few preliminary chords. then. The soda-water may have got into his head. As it swished into the glass. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. along the passage to the left. He took some more biscuits. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. Food." And. feeling that he was doing himself well. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. Mr. one leading into Wain's part of the house. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. feeling a new man. He had promised not to leave the house. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. and an apple. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. The next moment. as indeed he was. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. This was Life. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. Field actually did so. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. Field). Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. Everybody would be in bed. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. perhaps. consoling thought came to him. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. he examined the room. and there was an end of it."_ Mike stood and drained it in. To make himself more secure he locked that door. wound the machine up. There were the remains of supper on the table. he proceeded to look about him. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. It was quite late now. turning up the incandescent light. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room.

just in time. If." The answer was simple. though it was not likely. Then he began to be equal to it. The main point. and warn Wyatt. Evidently his . Two minutes later he was in bed. So long as the frontal attack was kept up. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. the kernel of the whole thing. The handle-rattling was resumed. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. was that he must get into the garden somehow. he opened the window. This was good. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. and he'd locked one door. He lay there. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. and reflected. and could get away by the other. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. suspicion would be diverted. His position was impregnable. "Now what. on the other hand. He stopped the gramophone. and dashed down the dark stairs. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. "would A. Wain from coming to the dormitory. It had occurred to him. And at the same time. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. Wain. the most exciting episode of his life. and get caught. that if Mr. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. he must keep Mr. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window." pondered Mike. J. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. and he sat up.need to be alarmed. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. and found that they were after him. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. on entering the room. It was open now. but he must not overdo the thing. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. He jumped out of bed. breathless. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game." thought Mike. to date. "He'd clear out.

of course not." said Mike." "A noise?" "Please. He spun round at the knock. catching sight of the gramophone. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. sir. sir. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. "Thought I heard a noise. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. drew inspiration from it. sir. sir!" said Mike. through which he peered owlishly at Mike. "Please. sir." "A noise?" "A row. He knocked at the door. All this is very unsettling. I thought I heard a noise. He looked about him. sir. could barely check a laugh. "Of course not. "Of course not." . Wain was standing at the window. and went in. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. Mr. Wain hurriedly. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. "So I came down. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. thin man. His hair was ruffled. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. He looked like some weird bird. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. sir. and. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. in spite of his anxiety. I don't know why I asked." "Looks like it. sir. "I think there must have been a burglar in here. a row." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr." "I found the window open. Mr. "_Me_. Wain was a tall. Mike. please. Wain continued to stare." If it was Mr." said Mike. looking out. He wore spectacles. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. Mr." said Mr. Jackson.retreat had been made just in time. Wain. please.

"You promised me that you wouldn't get out. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. There might be a bit of a row on his return. An inarticulate protest from Mr. His knees were covered with mould." "Perhaps you are right. as who should say. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. Mike stopped. He ran to the window. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. "Not likely. sir." Mr. sir. "He might be still in the house. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. sir. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked. I know. eliciting sharp howls of pain. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. then tore for the regions at the back. such an ass. "Is that you. "You young ass." Mr. Jackson. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house."He's probably in the garden. you might . I mean." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. sir. sir. Wain. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. The moon had gone behind the clouds. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. _"Et tu." cried Mike. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. ruminatively. Wain. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere." said Wyatt. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. Wain looked at the shrubbery. He felt that all was well. "Who on earth's that?" it said." said Mr. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants." "Yes.

You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row." "Please." said Mike. You must tread like a policeman. Exceedingly so. Exceedingly so" . It is exceedingly impertinent of you. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster." Mr." Mike clambered through the window. sir." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. sir. and I'll go back to the dining-room. if you like. You will do me two hundred lines. "Undoubtedly least have the sense to walk quietly. "You're a genius. I will not have it. you see. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird. Wain. "I never saw such a man." "It wasn't that." "Yes. Or. standing outside with his hands on the sill." said Mr. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course. but I turned on the gramophone. Come in at once. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold. it was rather a rotten thing to do. It was very wrong of you to search for him. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window. The thing was." "That's not a bad idea." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. Latin and English. you might come down too. You have been seriously injured. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared. "It's miles from his bedroom. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt. but you don't understand. You dash along then. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. I will not have it. He must have got out of the garden. "But how the dickens did he hear you.' Ripping it was. I suppose. I'll get back. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. Have you no sense. Well. till Wain came along. so excited. sir." he said. All right. "You have no business to be excited. "I couldn't find him." "Undoubtedly. Wain was still in the dining-room. come in." And Mike rapidly explained the situation.

"Stay where you are. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. He loved to sit in this attitude. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. He yawned before he spoke. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. "only he has got away. you will both be punished with extreme severity." he said excitedly. sir. I must be obeyed instantly. sir. "I thought I heard a noise. I will not have boys running about my garden at night. getting tea ready. preparatory to going on the river. James--and you. watching some one else work. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first. It is possible that you mistook my meaning." They made it so. At least Trevor was in the study. You hear me." "But the burglar. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. Mr." said Mike. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. hanging over space. "Under no circumstances whatever. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. . and have a look round." "Shall I go out into the garden.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. Both of you go to bed immediately." he said. The question stung Mr." said Mike. Jackson? James. you understand me? To bed at once. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. In these circumstances. And. Inordinately so. James. He called Mr. "sir" in public. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. "I was under the impression." he said. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. It is preposterous. of Donaldson's. Wain into active eruption once more. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. Wain "father" in private. the other outside. Clowes was on the window-sill. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said. one leg in the room. sir?" said Wyatt. "We might catch him.

" said Clowes. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. packing ." "Too busy.'" "You were right there. But when it comes to deep thought. Aged fifteen. I suppose it's fun to him. where is he? Among the also-rans. you slacker.' That's what I say. "Come and help. laddie. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. I mean. two excess." said Trevor. Better order it to-day. but can't think of Life." said Trevor. "One for the pot." breathed Trevor. Cheek's what I call it. slicing bread. Hence. you'd have let your people send him here. 'and he's all right. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. Trevor. I often say to people. If you'd been a silly ass. Have you got any brothers." "See it done. I did not." "That shows your sense. My people wanted to send him here. and very much in earnest over all that he did. Trevor. I should think. Like the heroes of the school stories." "My lad. "I said. 'Good chap.' I say.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them." "You aren't doing a stroke." "My mind at the moment. I lodged a protest. I have a brother myself. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn." "Silly ass. we see my brother two terms ago. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work." "I withdraw what I said about your sense. and looked sad. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. Consider it unsaid. Trevor?" "One. which he was not. Trevor was shorter. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school." said Clowes. Couple of years younger than me. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy. I said. "All right. 'One Clowes is luxury. Not a bad chap in his way. I'm thinking of Life. Where is he? Your brother. Tigellinus. That's a thing you couldn't do." "Marlborough. I say. Clowes was tall. as our old pal Nero used to remark. Did I want them spread about the school? No. we shall want some more jam to-morrow." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded.' At least.

which is what I should do myself. revered by all who don't. and tooling off to Rugby." "Well?" "Look here. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. At present." "That's just it. too. naturally. it's the limit. come on. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us. It's all right. with an unstained reputation." "Why?" "Well. Now. however. which he might easily do. I suppose." "What a rotten argument. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. In other words. And here am I at Wrykyn. You say Jackson's all right." "Young Jackson seems all right. It's just the one used by chaps' people. My heart bleeds for Bob. I've talked to him several times at the nets.up his little box. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod. courted by boys. What's wrong with him? Besides." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. so far. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. But the term's hardly started yet. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. so he broods over him like a policeman. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. who looks on him as no sportsman. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. For once in your life you've touched the spot. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. "Mr." he said. At the end of that period." said Trevor. considering his cricket. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. Bob seems to be trying the first way. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here. It's the masters you've got to consider." "What's up? Does he rag?" . but. and he's very decent. he is. he returned to his subject. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded. If I frown----" "Oh. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. perhaps." "Jackson's all right. loved by all who know me. We were on the subject of brothers at school. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. fawned upon by masters. as I said. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. but while they're there. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. It may be all right after they're left. the term's only just started.

It's nothing to do with us. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. He's head of Wain's. however. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. and which is bound to make rows between them." "Yes." "He never seems to be in extra. Better leave him alone. too. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that. He's asking for trouble." "I know. walking back to the house. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river." "The Gazeka is a fool. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. unless he leaves before it comes off. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days. Besides. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him." "I don't know. every other night." "If you must tell anybody. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. if Jackson's so thick with him. that he'll be roped into it too. All I say is that he's just the sort who does. anyhow. And if you're caught at that game." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. and." "All front teeth and side." Trevor looked disturbed. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. One always sees him about on half-holidays."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. it's the boot every time. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. he's on the spot. Still. Let's stagger out. and does them. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. For instance. Well. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. which he hasn't time for. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. The odds are. I shouldn't think so. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. But what's the good of worrying. . tell the Gazeka. You'd only make him do the policeman business.

" "Not a bit. I meant the one here. that I know of." "Don't blame him. "That reminds me. then. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper." . so I suppose he wants to have a rag. oiling a bat. It's his last. but. Only he is rather mucking about this term." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. I say." "Oh. J." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him. "I say." "I should get blamed. That's his look out." "That's all right then. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. all right. Smith said he'd speak to him." "I've done that. I spoke to him about it. I hear. Bob.He found him in his study." "I should. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day. I think. sitting up. bewildered. "look here. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either. I didn't mean that brother. you did? That's all right. He'd have more chance. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house. I forgot to get the evening paper. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor." he said. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking." said Bob. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. Why?" "It's this way. Are you busy?" "No. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too." "Nor do I." "I know. Rather rot. I think I'll speak to him again. by Jove. W. though." "Oh. "My brother. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's. If Wyatt likes to risk it." "Oh. Well?" "About your brother. you know. being in the same house.

and Bob. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. at home. and he said." "Saunders. I suppose he'll get his first next year.s. and there falls on you from space one big drop." said Trevor. started on his Thucydides. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. I simply couldn't do a thing then. Henfrey'll be captain. the pro. when suddenly there is a hush. I expect. though. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. Mr. when they meet. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence. You were rather in form. . "I thought I heard it go. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. You have a pro. I was away a lot. Some trivial episode occurs. for years. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. to coach you in the holidays. But Mike fairly lived inside the net." He went back to his study. But my last three innings have been 33 not out. even. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day." "Hope so. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. Nearly all the first are leaving." "Sort of infant prodigy. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. he thinks." "Yes.' There's a subtle difference. and had beaten them. And. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. It is just the same with a row. I asked him what he thought of me. and you are standing in a shower-bath. it's not been chucked away. Bob. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. and 51. having finished his oiling and washed his hands. 18. Pretty good for his first term. anyhow. W. The next moment the thing has begun.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days. Better than J. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. don't you?" "Yes.W." "Well. I didn't go to him much this last time. You are walking along one seemingly fine day." "Better than at the beginning of the term.

and I got bowled).The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches. Rather rot. The banquet. B. but didn't do much. so I played. I wasn't in it. because I didn't get an innings. I didn't do much. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two.W. I had to dive for it. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket. only they bar one another) told me about it. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. could you? I'm rather broke. He's Wain's step-son.--Half-a-crown would do. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. day. only I'd rather it was five bob. "MIKE. because they won the toss and made 215. Rather decent. "P. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. lasted." And. I may get another shot. Low down.W. Bob played for the first. only I don't quite know where he comes in.--Thanks awfully for your letter. "P. There's a dinner after the matches on O. as a . the Surrey man. and half the chaps are acting. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. songs. Jones. I hope you are quite well. together with the school choir. so we stop from lunch to four. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O.S.W. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. and there was rather a row. Love to everybody.S. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. Rot I call it. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. Still.P. "Your loving son. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. They stop the cricket on O. He was run out after he'd got ten. and 30 in a form match." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall.--I say. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. So I didn't go in. He was in it all right. The thing had happened after this fashion. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. I believe he's rather sick about it. On the Monday they were public property. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. lengthened by speeches. on the back of the envelope. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. and Spence). 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town.

In the present crisis. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. About midway between Wrykyn. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. and. and then race back to their houses. rural type of hooliganism. The school was always anxious for a row. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. as a rule. But there were others. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. the town. the town. and had been the custom for generations back. accordingly. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. brainless. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. it was not considered worth it. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. as usual. for the honour of the school. Risks which before supper seemed great. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. Words can be overlooked. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. But tomatoes cannot. and turn in. It was the custom. and the authorities. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. the school. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. Possibly. one's views are apt to alter. show a tendency to dwindle. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. Wrykyn. When. and that the criticisms were. which they used. and Wrykyn." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. . and hit Wyatt on the right ear. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. till about ten o'clock. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. therefore. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. essentially candid and personal. As a rule.rule. all might yet have been peace. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. in the midst of their festivities. This was the official programme. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk.

Gloomy in the daytime. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. and then kicks your shins. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. Barely a dozen remained. It raged up and down the road without a pause. panting. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. while some dear friend of his. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. and the procession had halted on the brink. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. now in a solid mass. "Let's chuck 'em in there. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. it was no time for science. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. for they suddenly gave the fight up. A move was made towards the pond. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. It struck Wyatt. He very seldom lost his temper. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. at any rate at first. By the side of the road at this point was a green. But. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring. . except the prisoners. and stampeded as one man." he said. They were smarting under a sense of injury. depressed looking pond." it said.There was a moment of suspense. but two remained. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. Wyatt. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. it looked unspeakable at night. The leaders were beyond recall. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. of whose presence you had no idea. The science was on the side of the school. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. now splitting up into little groups." he said quietly. when a new voice made itself heard. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. "Now then. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening.

The policeman realised his peril too late." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. Carry on. The prisoner did. Constable Butt." "I don't want none of your lip. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. You can't do anything here. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths." "Stop!" From Mr. you chaps. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. "You run along on your beat. That's what we are. you chaps. young gentleman. but you ought to know where to stop. understanding but dimly. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. but if out quick they may not get on to you. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. Mr. "Ho. are they? Come now. Butt." "It's anything but a lark. a yell from the policeman."What's all this?" "It's all right. and a splash compared with which . He ploughed his way to the bank. "Make 'em leave hold of us. and seized the captive by the arm." said Wyatt. a lark's a lark. This isn't a lark." said Wyatt. sprang forward. whoever you are. and vanished. "This is quite a private matter. Butt. with a change in his voice. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke. or you'll go typhoid. He'll have churned up a bit. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner. it's an execution. a cheer from the launching party. scrambled out. I expect there are leeches and things there." "Ho!" said the policeman. A howl from the townee." said Mr. Don't swallow more than you can help. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. Butt. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land. going in second. "All right. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond. and suspecting impudence by instinct." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred.

with others. Butt gave free rein to it. and. but in the present case. and the interested neighbours are following their example. The tomato hit Wyatt. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble." said Wyatt. The imagination of the force is proverbial. sir. "Threw me in. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). _Plop_!" said Mr." "Threw you in!" "Yes.the first had been as nothing. Yes. I shall--certainly----" . "Really. having prudently changed his clothes. Mr. and throws away the match. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. Police Constable Alfred Butt. before any one can realise what is happening. Butt fierce and revengeful. Wyatt." as they say in the courts of law. it has become world-famous. sir. we find Mr. really!" said the headmaster. calling upon the headmaster. and "with them. went to look for the thrower. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. It was no occasion for light apologies. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. with a certain sad relish. Mr. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. and all was over. Butt. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. but both comparisons may stand. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. Following the chain of events. "Do you know. Butt. sir. they did. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. sheets of fire are racing over the country. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond.

Butt promptly. and I couldn't see not to say properly." The headmaster's frown deepened.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. I will look into the matter at once. sir." "Yes. Mr. sir. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot." he added. She says to me. "I was on my beat. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. I says to myself. Wringin' wet." concluded Mr.' I says.' And. sir.' I says.' And. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_. Butt." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely." "Yes. Good-night. beginning to suspect something. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood. constable. "Couple of 'undred. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. sir!" said the policeman. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying. and I thought I heard a disturbance. "I _was_ wet. Butt started it again. and fighting. As it was. They shall be punished. Lots of them all gathered together. sir. I wonder?' I says. sir. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. sir. 'a frakkus. according to discretion. sir! Mrs." said Mr." "I have never heard of such a thing. They actually seized you." "H'm--Well. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here." "Good-night. again with the confidential air. ''Allo. "How many boys were there?" he asked." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist. right from the beginning. sir. sir. too." "Yes--Thank you. 'Why. Had he been a motorist. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake. I can hardly believe that it is possible. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. with the air of one confiding a secret. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. He . he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten. 'Wot's this all about. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here. sir.

he would have asked for their names. "There'll be a frightful row about it. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. astounded "Here. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. of course. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. There is every probability--in fact. Only two days before the O." they had said. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term. expend itself in words. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. I say!" Everybody was saying it. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. and finally become a mere vague memory. The school was thunderstruck. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. however. And here they were. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. which at one time had looked like being fatal. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. become public property. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. It could not understand it. though not always in those words.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. and the school. blank. he got the impression that the school. and in private at that. about a week before the pond episode. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. A public school has no Hyde Park. as a whole.. The blow had fallen. and not of only one or two individuals. As it was. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. . which was followed throughout the kingdom. but for one malcontent. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way. always ready to stop work. It was one vast. The pond affair had. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. it is certain--that. and crushed guilty and innocent alike.W. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life. It happened that. When condensed.. They were not malicious. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school.. It must always. was culpable. right in it after all. or nearly always.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion.

intense respect for order and authority. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. even though he may not approve of it. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality. and. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority. Before he came to Wyatt. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt." "All right." . Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. a daring sort of person. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter." "Why not?" said Wyatt. that it was all rot. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. their ironbound conservatism. Wyatt was unmoved. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. and probably considered himself. Leaders of men are rare. a day-boy. and scenting sarcasm. It requires genius to sway a school. and that it was a beastly shame. I'm not going to. Wyatt acted on him like some drug. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. He said it was a swindle. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat.The malcontent was Wyatt. as a whole." Neville-Smith stopped and stared. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words." "You're rotting. and he was full of it. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school. He added that something ought to be done about it. on the whole. "Well.

"No. Are you just going to cut off. "I say." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone." "I could get quite a lot. I should be glad of a little company. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority. ragging barred. excited way." "That would be a start. but." "All right. But only because I shall be the only one to do it. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea. I say." "I suppose so." "You'll get sacked. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. wouldn't it be?" "Yes." "By Jove. I believe. and let you know." said Neville-Smith after a pause. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's. "Do." "Not bad. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl." "I say. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . nor could they! I say!" They walked on." Another pause. If the whole school took Friday off. Groups kept forming in corners apart. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow. what a score. "It would be a bit of a rag. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night." said Wyatt. they couldn't do much. Wyatt whistling. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses. They couldn't sack the whole school.

didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you." "So do I. and at three minutes to nine. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery." said Willoughby. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. the only other occupant of the form-room. it's just striking. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning. to Brown. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters. came on bicycles. however. what a swindle if he did. Some one might have let us know. I can't make it out. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school. like the gravel. as a general rule. trying to get in in time to answer their names. Why." "Somebody would have turned up by now. saying it was on again all right. were empty. Punctuality is the politeness of princes.'s day row. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day." "So should I. A few. but it had its leaven of day-boys. "I say. who." . whose homes were farther away. "It's jolly rum. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. The majority of these lived in the town. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night.W. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement. and walked to school. I say. of the Lower Fifth. I should have got up an hour later. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. though unable to interfere. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O." said Brown.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. The form-rooms. rather to the scandal of the authorities. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day.

sir. "Hullo. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall." Mr. Brown." he said. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. And they were all very puzzled." "Have you seen nobody?" "No. sir. and the notice was not brought to me. and a few more were standing. We were just wondering. Mr. there is a holiday to-day. "Willoughby." "I've heard nothing about it. as you say. Seeing the obvious void. Spence pondered. sir." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. He walked briskly into the room. he stopped in his stride. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements." It was the master of the Lower Fifth. if the holiday had been put on again. as he walked to the Common Room. A brisk conversation was going on. Not a single one. Several voices hailed Mr. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. Spence. "Well." "None of the boarders?" "No. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. Spence seated himself on the table. The usual lot who come on bikes." "We were just wondering. Spence. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. . we don't know. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are." "This is extraordinary. and looked puzzled. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. Spence told himself. after all."Hullo." Mr. here _is_ somebody. sir." "Yes. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. Perhaps. He was not a house-master. sir. as was his habit. Spence?" Mr. sir. sir. Spence as he entered.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

As the army drew near to the school. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. They descended on the place like an army of locusts. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. It was not a market-day. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted.his paper." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. At the school gates only a handful were left. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. "Anything I can do for you. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. He always told that as his best story. jam." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. and as evening began to fall. singing the school song. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. They looked weary but cheerful. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. . each house claiming its representatives. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. as generalissimo of the expedition. Private citizens rallied round with bread. In addition. And two days later. the march home was started. In the early afternoon they rested. net practice was just coming to an end when. please. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. and he always ended with the words. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. And the army lunched sumptuously. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. fortunately." the leading inn of the town. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. At Worfield the expedition lunched. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. faintly. Other inns were called upon for help. and apples. it melted away little by little." said Wyatt. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. Wyatt. * * * * * At the school." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. with comments and elaborations. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. "Yes.

There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice. I thought he would. "Hullo." He then gave the nod of dismissal. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. "I say. isn't it! He's funked it. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. What do you mean? Why?" "Well. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. This was the announcement. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have." Wyatt was damping. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance. indeed. "My dear chap. thought the school. were openly exulting. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics. and gazed at him. The less astute of the picnickers. they didn't send in the bill right away. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features. walking back to Donaldson's. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. Finds the job too big to tackle." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. Now for it. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. It hasn't started yet. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. But it came all . marvelling." said Wyatt. The school streamed downstairs. met Wyatt at the gate. "this is all right." he said. speechless.Bob Jackson." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them." he chuckled. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. There was.

It seems to me you're the chaps who got off. He lowers all records. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. The headmaster had acted. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them. the school sergeant. You wouldn't have if you'd been me." "Do you think he's going to do something." said Clowes. as they went back to the house. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one. who was walking a little stiffly. This bloated document was the extra lesson list. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates. I notice. It was a comprehensive document. as he read the huge scroll. then?" "Rather." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned. You wait. "Bates must have got writer's cramp." said Mike ruefully. Rather a good thing. "None of the kids are in it. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school. "he is an old sportsman. Everybody below the Upper Fourth." ." Wyatt was right. Buns were forgotten." Wyatt roared with laughter. Only the bigger fellows. "What!" "Yes.right. He was quite fresh." he said. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. and post them outside the school shop. It left out little." it began. "I don't know what you call getting off. To-day. I'm glad you got off. They surged round it. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday. "By Gad. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson." said Mike. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. I never saw such a man." "Sting?" "Should think it did. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred. I was one of the first to get it. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval." "Thanks." "Glad you think it funny.

who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot. Any more? No. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. I thought you weren't. especially as he's a bowler himself. "I'm not rotting." "You needn't rot. That's next Wednesday. I should think they'd give you a chance. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me. Me. Don't break down.C." * * * * * Billy Burgess." "I say. match." "I should be awfully sick. He had his day-dreams. The present was one of the rare .C. by Jove! I forgot." said Mike. "Or." "Well. whatever his batting was like. Ashe." "You don't think there's any chance of it. Fielding especially. rather. captain of Wrykyn cricket. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. overcome." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. like everybody else. one of the places. was a genial giant." "I'm not breaking down. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled. You'll probably get my place in the team. if it were me. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. But there'll be several vacancies. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening. that's the lot. rather. Wyatt. Burgess is simply mad on fielding. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No." "Oh. really. Probably Druce. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M. making a century in record time). If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. So you field like a demon this afternoon. "it's awfully decent of you. incidentally. Adams. Anyhow."Well." said Mike. Still. I don't blame him either. it isn't you. "All right. Let's see. buck up." said Mike indignantly. you're better off than I am." said Wyatt seriously." "I say. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over." continued Wyatt. if his fielding was something extra special." said Mike uncomfortably. do you?" said Mike awkwardly. so you're all right. what rot!" "It is." "An extra's nothing much.

"You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply. Dropped a sitter off me to-day." said Wyatt. Then he returned to the attack. That kid's good. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked." "Rot. Besides. There it is in the corner. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man. Dash. in the excitement of the moment the M. I will say that for him. as Wyatt appeared." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end. and drop you into the river. shortly before lock-up. That's your trouble." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully. like the soldier in Shakespeare. "I'm awfully sorry." "Why don't you play him against the M. "Eight.C. "The fact is.C.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. And I'd jump on the sack first. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when . I've dropped my stud. full of strange oaths. and a better field." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal." grumbled Burgess. Wyatt found him in his study." "Right ho!. I was on the spot.. For a hundred and three." "You haven't got a mind. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt. He's as tall as I am. jumping at his opportunity. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. match went clean out of my mind.C." "I suppose he is. give me a kiss." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute.. he isn't small. Bill. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. and let's be friends.C. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. "He's as good a bat as his brother. "Come on.

Everything seems hushed and expectant. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. "I'll think it over. Burgess. Wyatt.C.C. better . "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. there is a curious. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag. at Lord's. So long. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. Better stick to the men at the top of the second. gassing to your grandchildren.C.C. and his heart missed a beat. B. Frightful gift of the gab you've got. "You know. That kid's a genius at cricket. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent. "Just give him a trial. He read it." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M. "All right. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for. Jackson. The bell went ages ago. For. CHAPTER XIII THE M." said Wyatt. poor kids." "Good. He's going to be better than any of his brothers." he said. wouldn't you? Very well." Wyatt got up.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. just above the W. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. "Think it over. how you 'discovered' M." said Wyatt. and you rave about top men in the second." he said. His own name. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. it's a bit risky. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about. then. even Joe. chaps who play forward at everything." Wyatt stopped for breath." "You play him. I shall be locked out. "You rotter." said Burgess." Burgess hesitated. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren. bottom but one. Give him a shot.

"Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo. where he had changed. "Didn't I always say it. Master Mike!" The professional beamed. Mike walked across from Wain's. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. feeling quite hollow. "Why. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. "Why. I'm hanged! Young marvel." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. sir. saw him." Joe took Mike by the shoulder. and then they'll have to put you in.after lunch. hopeless feeling left Mike." "Of course. Saunders?" "He is.C. Hullo. the lost. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home." said Saunders." he said. He could almost have cried with pure fright. here he is. I'm only playing as a sub. Only wants the strength." "Well. so that they could walk over together. and quite suddenly. isn't he. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the . Master Mike." said Saunders. I always said it.C. He stopped short. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. you'll make a hundred to-day. Master Joe. and I got one of the places. and stopped dead." he chuckled. you know. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. "Got all the strokes. Master Mike. as Saunders had done. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily. team came down the steps. when the strangeness has worn off. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. to wait. "Isn't it ripping." "Well. sir. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment.. "By Jove. Saunders!" cried Mike. Three chaps are in extra.

Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch.w. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. sorry as a captain.C. but he contrived to chop it away." said the other with dignity. relief came. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. and was l. exhibiting Mike. The wicket was hard and true.C. The beginning of the game was quiet. tried to late-cut a rising ball. Joe began to open his shoulders. Bob. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. aren't you. For himself.b. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. still taking risks. . "What do you think of this?" said Joe." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. You are only ten. Saunders is our only bowler. Burgess was glad as a private individual. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. as usual." "This is our star. You wait till he gets at us to-day. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. and hoping that nothing would come his way. just when things seemed most hopeless. missed it. On the other hand. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. for Joe. It was a moment too painful for words. was feeling just the same. but he is. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. "I never saw such a family. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. not to mention the other first-class men. The M. "Aged ten last birthday. and the pair gradually settled down. conscious of being an uncertain field. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success. The Authentic.M. and playing for the school.C. almost held it a second time. dropped it. who grinned bashfully. At twenty. but Bob fumbled it. getting in front of his wicket. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. It was the easiest of slip-catches. And. As a captain. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump." "I _have_ won the toss. team.C. and Burgess tried a change of bowling.

And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. and was stumped next ball. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs.C. "By Jove. but exceedingly hard to shift." said Burgess. total over the three hundred. and the M.C. After this. Two hundred went up." he said to Berridge and Marsh.C. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. the school first pair. was optimistic. A hundred an hour is quick work. the first-wicket man. against Ripton. and two hundred and fifty. coming in last. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. Morris. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. Then came lunch. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. The hundred went up at five o'clock. on the present occasion. Following out this courageous advice." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . and was then caught by Mike. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. hit two boundaries. third-change bowlers had been put on. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. but wickets fell at intervals. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. was stumped half-way through the third. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. was a thoroughly sound bat. His second hit had just lifted the M. I wish I was in. "Lobs. Some years before. to make the runs. invincible. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. Then Joe reached his century. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. there was scarcely time. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. A comfortable. Unfortunately.C. Burgess. the hundred and fifty at half-past. the end was very near. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. as usual. all round the wicket. Joe was still in at one end. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. Four after four. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. Runs came with fair regularity.The school revived. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. however. Berridge. things settled down. a little on the slow side. "Better have a go for them. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. Saunders. Both batsmen were completely at home. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace.

tottered out into the sunshine. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. seemed to give Morris no trouble. The bowler smiled sadly.. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. and hit the wicket. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. It was his turn next. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. The first over yielded six runs. as if he hated to have to do these things. all through gentle taps along the ground. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. "That's all you've got to do. fumbling at a glove. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. Twenty runs were added." said Burgess. because they had earned it. but they were distinctly envious. At last he arrived. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. and get the thing over. As a matter of fact. At the wickets. In the second. It was the same story to-day. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man." he added to Mike. he felt better. "and it's ten past six. by a series of disasters. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. He knew his teeth were chattering. as usual. Saunders. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. five wickets were down. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. He was jogging on steadily to his century. He had refused to be tempted. and Mike. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. Bob Jackson went in next. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. Stick in. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. and a thin. standing ready for Saunders's delivery.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. No good trying for the runs now. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. three of them victims to the lobs. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. and Morris. . and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. Lobs are the most dangerous. Mike drew courage from his attitude. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. And that was the end of Marsh. For a time things went well. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. The long stand was followed. He wished he could stop them. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. insinuating things in the world. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. Morris was still in at one end. Bob." All!. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet..

but always a boundary." It was Joe. and invariably hit a boundary. It was a half-volley. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door.. which he hit to the terrace bank. but Mike played everything that he did bowl.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. and you can't get out.. Now. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. The bowling became a shade loose. "Play straight. sometimes a cut. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. and. just the right distance away from the off-stump. If so. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball." said the umpire. Mike would have liked to have run two. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. The next moment the dreams had come true. and Saunders. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. The moment had come. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. On the other hand. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. sir. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs.. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. wryly but gratefully. He felt equal to the situation. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. did not disturb him. "Don't be in a funk. Half-past six chimed. Even the departure of Morris. he failed signally. ." said a voice. it was Mike's first appearance for the school. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. Burgess continued to hit. doubtless. moment Mike felt himself again. Saunders was a conscientious man. but he himself must simply stay in. Burgess came in. "To leg. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. skips and the jump. the school was shouting. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. There was only Reeves to follow him. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. besides being conscientious. and bowled. All nervousness had left him. Sometimes a drive. Mike grinned. Saunders was beginning his run. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home.

All was well. and mid-off." said Burgess. fast left-hand. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. so you may as well have the thing now. "You are a promising man. and Mike got his place in the next match. dropped down into the second. First one was given one's third eleven cap. just failed to reach it." said the wicket-keeper. Unfortunately for him. the visiting team. It hummed over his head. and missed the wicket by an inch. who had played twice for the first eleven. But it was all that he expected.The lob bowler had taken himself off. at any rate as far . Five: another yorker. Number two: yorker. That meant. Joe.C." said Wyatt. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. as many a good man had done before him. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap.C. of the School House. Mike let it alone. here you are." Mike was a certainty now for the second. to Burgess after the match. Four: beat him. match. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. "I'll give him another shot. however gentlemanly. jumping. were not brilliant cricketers. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. * * * * * So Wilkins. Down on it again in the old familiar way. as has been pointed out. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. almost at a venture. They might mean anything from "Well. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. "I'm sorry about your nose. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. "nothing. Mike played it back to the bowler." Then came the second colours. You won't get any higher." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. and we have our eye on you. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. "He's not bad. "I told you so." But Burgess. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. naturally. He hit out. at the last ball." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper. against the Gentlemen of the County. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him. this may not seem an excessive reward.

but Firby-Smith." he shouted. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. The Gazeka. Run along. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. as head of the house." he said. did better in this match. Mike went in first wicket. this score did not show up excessively. eh? Well. It happened in this way. made a fuss. with Raikes. having the most tender affection for his dignity. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. House matches had begun. Bob. not out. and Marsh all passing the half-century. _verbatim_. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. when the Gazeka. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. See? That's all. bursting with fury. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. Ellerby. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match." Mike departed. match. He had made seventeen. and. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards bowling was concerned. of the third eleven. Morris making another placid century. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. Mike pounded it vigorously. as the star. and he and Wyatt went in first. . he waxed fat and kicked. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. "Well. hit one in the direction of cover-point. Raikes possessed few subtleties. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. making twenty-five. prancing down the pitch. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. and was thoroughly set. mind you don't go getting swelled head. supported by some small change. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. The school won the toss. was captain of the side. For some ten minutes all was peace. Then Wain's opened their innings. Wyatt made a few mighty hits.C. "Come on. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. To one who had been brought up on Saunders. went in first. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon. who had the bowling. to the detriment of Mike's character. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. and was then caught at cover. The following. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. and Berridge.C. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. He was enjoying life amazingly. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him.

and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity." he said. and lick him. These are solemn moments. At close of play he sought Burgess. a prefects' meeting. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings. "I want to speak to you. "Rather a large order. cover having thrown the ball in. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner.Mike. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused. Burgess. he was also sensitive on the subject. "Don't _laugh_. a man of simple speech. besides being captain of the eleven. "You know young Jackson in our house. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. And only a prefects' meeting. "What's up?" said Burgess. chewing the insult. you grinning ape!" he cried. Firby-Smith arrived. "Easy run there. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. thought Firby-Smith." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. avoided him." Burgess looked incredulous. was also head of the school. Firby-Smith did not grovel." he said. Burgess." he said reprovingly." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. The world swam before Mike's eyes. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. "It isn't funny." . The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley. feeling now a little apprehensive." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. miss it. shouting "Run!" and. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. And Mike. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. you know. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees.

" "He's frightfully conceited.C. On the other hand. but he thought the thing over. Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. And here was another grievance against fate.C. he's a decent kid. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team. with the air of one uttering an epigram. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. and let you know to-morrow. Bob occurred to him." And the matter was left temporarily at that. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. I'll think it over. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. Still. "Yes. "Rather thick. match. and particularly the M. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. "Well. look here. well--Well. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. anyhow. were strong this year at batting."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. Burgess started to laugh." said Firby-Smith. . I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. the results of the last few matches. therefore. He thought he would talk it over with somebody. Here was he. In the second place. I mean--A prefects' meeting. It became necessary." he said meditatively. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be. as the nearest of kin. In the first place. Bob was one of his best friends." "Oh. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. Besides. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. but turned the laugh into a cough. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. It was only fair that Bob should be told. Geddington.

What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk." "Well." he added.' Billy." continued Burgess gloomily. "Busy. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. "Sickening thing being run out. look here. took his place. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. You know how to put a thing nicely. The tall. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study. I want to see you. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. the captain. thanks. "Take a pew. "Hullo. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry." said Bob. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. dark. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. Have some?" "No." "I suppose so. but in fielding there was a great deal. "Silly young idiot. you can. can't you? This is me. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. I say. "Still----" "I know. one's bound to support him. you know. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. He came to me frothing with rage. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely." suggested Burgess. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith. the man. I sympathise with the kid. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened." . and Neville-Smith. "Personally. Bob. At batting there was not much to choose between the two. So out Bob had gone. handsome chap. "Still. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. It's rather hard to see what to do. Bob?" he asked. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. but he _is_ an ass. Mike was good. Bob was bad." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time." "It's awfully awkward." he said. sitting over here.and put the temptation sturdily behind him.

" With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. "I thought you hadn't. I tell you what. "Look here. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith. Bob. he became all animation. apart from everything else. aren't you? Well." . would it be. is there? I mean. He had a great admiration for Bob. I know. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. He gets right way. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. made him waver. One cannot help one's thoughts." he said. "I that sort. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. "Yes?" "Oh. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent."Awful rot. nothing--I mean. though. you're a pal of his. go and ask him to drop the business. "I didn't think of you. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. "I say. But he recovered himself. "Burgess was telling me. not much of a catch for me." emended the aggrieved party. you know. You must play the the old Gazeka over. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. you're not a bad sort. You know. "Well. I don't know. I'm a prefect." said Bob. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally." he said. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know. By now he'll have simmered down a bit. you know. having to sit there and look on. Look here." he said. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects. Seeing Bob. too. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got." he said." said Bob. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. Not much good lugging the prefects into it. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. "I wanted to see you. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out. He wants kicking. "You see it now." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing." It was a difficult moment for Bob. "Don't do that.

and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. and the offensively forgiving. Still. And. and owed him many grudges." "Thanks. I think if I saw him and cursed him. "I'm specially glad for one reason. of course. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. Mike. Curiously enough." said Mike. he. But for Bob." "No. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. Reflection. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house. he gave him to understand. there's that." said Bob. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question." "What's that?" inquired Mike. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. he felt grateful to Bob. Mike's all right. All right then."Well. . After all. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest." "Yes. and went to find Mike." "Of course it was. most of all. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed." "Thanks. so subdued was his fighting spirit. really. and unburdened his soul to him. you know. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. He wished he could find some way of repaying him." and Bob waving them back. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton. without interest. I did run him out. of Donaldson's. in the course of his address. fourteen years of age." said Burton. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. and Burton felt revengeful. though without success. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. "I say. Firby-Smith. He was a punctured balloon. it was frightful cheek. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. He was not inclined to be critical. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn.

He kicked Burton. Burgess." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. Good-night. We wanted your batting." said Mike stolidly. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much. that's bad luck. Be all right." "Good-night." said Mike." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest." "I say." "Hope so. I suppose?" "Oh. retiring hurriedly. some taint. as it were. weighing this remark. He'd have been playing but for you. yes. but several times." And Burgess. "Come in!" yelled the captain. They were _all_ beasts. so that Burton."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. and his decision remained unaltered. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. and gradually made up his mind. just before lock-up. He tapped with his right hand. Beastly bad luck.54 next morning. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition. anyway. too. in a day or two. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. for his left was in a sling. He thought the thing over more fully during school. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. Not once or twice. though. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob." "Thanks. CHAPTER XVI . rather. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule. On the evening before the Geddington match. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8. * * * * * Mike walked on.

he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. Only it's away. There's a second match on. I'll have a look later on. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. His telegram arrived during morning school. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. what shall we do. It's nothing much. Uncle John." "I could manage about that." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket. and." "Never mind. thanks. Still. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian." "Doctor seen it?" "No. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth." "Why aren't you--Hullo. He had thereupon left the service. Coming south.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. Mike? I want to see a match. Be all right by Monday. and. at the request of Mike's mother. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life." "Hurt?" "Not much. mainly in Afghanistan. really. after an adventurous career. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch." "H'm. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. . and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another. I didn't see." "They're playing Geddington. Uncle John took command of the situation at once." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect. It doesn't matter a bit. "School playing anybody to-day. Somebody ought to look at it. "It isn't anything. I think I should like to see the place first. Now. But it's really nothing.

" It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. and done well. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting." said Mike. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven. Then there'll be only the last place left." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded. The thing was done. I've got plenty of time. I didn't know that. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school." two or three times in an absent voice. I should think. But I wish I . "Chap in Donaldson's. Of course. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. it's Bob's last year. A sudden. Neville-Smith. He's in the School House." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. Very nice. It was a glorious day. and they passed on to the cricket field. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins." "Still. By Jove. I was playing for the first. They look as if they were getting set. "Ah yes. "If he does well to-day." Uncle John detected the envious note." he said enviously. I see. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. "That's Trevor." "Rather awkward. that. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. Mike. but he choked the feeling down. What bad luck. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this.Got to be done. if he does well against Geddington. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit. and better do it as soon as possible. by George!" remarked Uncle John. No wonder you're feeling badly treated. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business. they'll probably keep him in." "For the first? For the school! My word. but I thought that was only as a substitute. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. as Trevor. it was this Saturday. There are only three vacancies. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now.

"The worst of a school. Mike?" "No. sing out. let me--Done it? Good. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. Mike was crimson. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. Lunch. When you get to my age you need it. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. as he pulled up-stream with strong. "That willow's what you want. "Ye--no. and sighed contentedly." said Mike. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches. ." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage. and we'll put in there. Let's have a look at the wrist. "Geddington 151 for four. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. I badly want a pipe. recovered himself. caught a crab. They got up. "That hurt?" he asked. "Let's just call at the shop." "Not bad that. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice." said Uncle John. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds." Uncle John looked over his shoulder." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes. "I hope you don't smoke. "Put the rope over that stump. I wonder how Bob's got on. but his uncle had already removed the sling. Which reminds me.could get in this year. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games. The next piece of shade that you see. "It's really nothing. then gave it a little twist. Can you manage with one hand? Here." he began." stammered Mike. "But I believe they're weak in bowling." said Mike." After they had watched the match for an hour." "Pull your left." "Rotten trick for a boy. The telegram read." said Mike. He could hear nothing but his own breathing. Uncle John looked up sharply. unskilful stroke.

(This. on. would they give him his cap? Supposing. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first. gaping. Mike said nothing."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. It wasn't that. That's how it was. I think. "Jove." Uncle John was silent. where his fate was even now being sealed. really. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. swear you won't tell him. let his mind wander to Geddington. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. one may as well tell the truth..) "Swear you won't tell him. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew.. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. I won't give you away. There was an exam. It had struck him as neat and plausible." . Only----" "Well?" "Oh." "I ought to be getting back soon. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes. while Mike. Mike told it. "I know." "I won't tell him. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday.." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. dash it all then." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke." When in doubt. I was nearly asleep. Lock-up's at half-past. Look here. "May as well tell me. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. and his uncle sat up. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. so I thought I might as well let him. well. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again.

How's your wrist?" "Oh. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. Mike pushed his way through the crowd. and they ragged the whole time. as they reached the school gates." said Mike. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets. Uncle John felt in his pocket. "Bob made forty-eight. I wanted to go to sleep. Marsh 58. "It was simply baking at Geddington. I should think." Wyatt began to undress. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand." He paused for a moment. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. It was the only possible reply. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. thanks. Jackson 48). Neville-Smith four)."Up with the anchor." he said. . I'm going to shove her off. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. and rejoined his uncle. "Well?" said Uncle John. It was a longer message this time. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. I'm done. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed. then. "We won. "By Jove." he added carelessly. eh? We are not observed. Don't fall overboard. better. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first. only they wouldn't let me." Mike worked his way back through the throng." "There'll be another telegram. CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night.

I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. I was in at the other end. Chap had a go at it. with watercress round it. Bob puts them both on the floor. Only one or two thirds. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. he fell asleep. If he dwelt on it. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. Soothed by these memories. A bit lucky." Burgess. Never saw a clearer case in my life. And. too." "Why. No first. Jenkins and Clephane."No. Ripping innings bar those two chances. He let their best man off twice in one over. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. when he does give a couple of easy chances. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. He was very fond of Bob. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. can't remember who. With great guile he had fed this late cut. reviewing the match that night. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. to-day. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. as he lay awake in his cubicle. he would get insomnia. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. had come to much the same conclusion. he felt." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad." "Most captains would have done. Just lost them the match. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. Bit of luck for Bob. Their umpire. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. Beastly man to bowl to. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. off Billy. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. and another chap. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. though.

I'll practise like mad. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the ." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first." "All right then. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. "Look here. I shall miss it. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. It's simply awful. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. Both of them were. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street.chance of reforming. found his self-confidence returning slowly." Bob was all remorse. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. I can't time them. I'm certain the deep would be much better. but I mean." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. as he stood regarding the game from afar. Bob. I believe I should do better in the deep. This did not affect the bulk of the school." "I know. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. drop by drop. I could get time to watch them there. As for Mike. Try it. * * * * * In the next two matches. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. I hate the slips. "It's those beastly slip catches. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. Bob. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. Bob figured on the boundary. he played for the second. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. I know that if a catch does come. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. and hoped for the day. Trevor'll hit me up catches. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference. I'm frightfully sorry. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now." The conversation turned to less pressing topics. of Seymour's. accordingly. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds." "Well. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler. About your fielding." "Do you know.

and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. He made his way there. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. He tried the junior day-room. but people threw cushions at him. what was more important. He. He tried out of doors. The professional advice of Dr. Where were his drives now. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). who was top of the school averages. Shoeblossom. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. Marsh. On the Tuesday afternoon. and. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. entering the High Street furtively. In brief. the son of the house. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. disappeared from Society. and at the bottom of the heap. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. too. at the same moment." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it.Quiet Student. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. he was attending J. would be Shoeblossom. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. for chicken-pox. the school doctor. Upstairs. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. however necessary such an action might seem to him. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. He had occasional headaches. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. where he read _Punch_. peace. The next victim was Marsh. and returned to the school. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. and in the dingy back shop. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. sucked oranges. and also. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. was called for. Oakes. G. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. of the first eleven. Essentially a man of moods. Shoeblossom came away. Two days later Barry felt queer. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. and thought of Life. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. squealing louder than any two others.

after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. and Mike kept his end up. The total was a hundred and seven. bar the servants. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. Bob. They had only been beaten once. Have to look after my digestion. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. His food ran out. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. when Wain's won the footer cup. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. and I'm alone. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. and after that the rout began. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. and the school. and the Incogniti. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. and was not out eleven. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. Too old now. for Neville-Smith. for rain fell early in the morning. batting when the wicket was easier. All sorts of luxuries. too. And I can square them. they failed miserably. did anything to distinguish himself. But on this particular day. and ate that.elect. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. I remember. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. made a dozen. Some schools do it in nearly every match. but nobody except Wyatt. "Well. The weather may have had something to do with it. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. Got through a slice. I've got the taste in my mouth still. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. doubled this. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. going in fourth wicket." . Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. for no apparent reason. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. three years ago. batting first on the drying wicket.

He got tea ready. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. was more at his ease. and sat down. But young Mike's all over him as a bat. He's bound to get in next year." "Oh. making desultory conversation the while. I can't say more than that." continued Bob. he would just do it." Mike stared. Why? What about?" . he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. Mike. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. of course. I don't know. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. being older." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period. When he had finished. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter. of course. one wants the best man. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. Bob. he poured Mike out a cup. yes."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. though. passed him the bread." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap." "You were all right. Still. Beastly awkward." "Bit better. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly. "Not seen much of each other lately. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season." "You get on much better in the deep. We've all been at Wrykyn. "because it is." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. Pity to spoil the record.

but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. 'I don't know what to do. I heard every word. but. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. "Thanks. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. I'm simply saying what I think. I'm jolly glad it's you. It's the fortune of war. 'It's rough on Bob. So Mike edged out of the room. Billy agreed with him. 'Well. . After all. and said nothing. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. I was in the pav. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life. '_I_ think M.' he said. there'll be no comparison. As it isn't me." said Mike. sir. He's a shade better than R. The pav. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. "Well. and tore across to Wain's." resumed Bob. to shake his hand. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. sir?' Spence said. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. awfully. Burgess." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. It had been his one ambition. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. I'll give you my opinion. of course. and that's what he's there for. I waited a bit to give them a good start. don't let's go to the other extreme. and in a year or two. he's cricket-master." It was the custom at Wrykyn. I couldn't help hearing what they said. They shook hands. I've a sort of idea our little race is over. and then sheered off myself. I fancy you've won. just now.' 'Yes. wiping the sweat off his forehead. of course. There was nothing much to _be_ said. 'Decidedly M. They thought the place was empty. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. and now he had achieved it. sir. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. "Not at all. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. and so on. rot. in the First room. 'Well. Well. 'That's just what I think.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own." muttered Mike. now. He was sorry for Bob. Bob. but don't feel bound to act on it. Congratulate you. on the other hand. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled.' said Spence."Well. What do you think. Billy said. and I picked it up and started reading it. what I wanted to see you about was this.' said old Bill.'s like a sounding-board. And so home." Mike looked at the floor. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about..'" "Oh. Spence said. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps.

dash it. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. He took his quarter of an hour.30 to-morrow morning. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. Still. The only possible confidant was Wyatt. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board. as it always does. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. orders were orders. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. And Wyatt was at Bisley. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. . therefore. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. he found that it was five minutes past six. It would have to be done. a prospect that appealed to him.--W. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. F.-S. was not. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. even on a summer morning. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. Until he returned. He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. As he passed it.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. It wouldn't do. he felt. Reaching out a hand for his watch. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels. and this silent alarm proved effective. Mike could tell nobody. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets." said Mike. and a little more. This was to the good. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd." "Oh. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer.

It was time. that Mike. he felt. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. would be bad enough. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. Was this right. he asked himself. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. and jolly quick. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. And outside in the cricket-field. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. inconvenienced--in short. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. One simply lies there. "look here. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. The painful interview took place after breakfast. in coming to his den. Now he began to waver. he said to himself. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. But not a chap who. I want to know what it all means. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. Who _was_ he.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. But logic is of no use. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it." he said. One would have felt. Make the rest of the team fag about. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. and glared. yes. Here was he. Mike thought he would take another minute. dash it all. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. "Young Jackson. Didn't you see the notice?" . and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. by the way. looking at him. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. being ordered about. and waited. One knows that delay means inconvenience. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. Firby-Smith straightened his tie.

" said the Gazeka shrilly. this. "Six!" "Five past. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself." said Mike indignantly. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. That's got nothing to do with it. Awfully embarrassing. you think you can do what you like. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. did you? Well. turn up or not. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. just listen to me. "Then you frightful kid. You've got swelled head. You think the place belongs to you. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first. Happy thought: over-slept himself. and I'm captain of it. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. The rather large grain of truth in what . Frightful swelled head." "Oh. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you. but he rather fancied not. I've had my eye on you for some time. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. See?" Mike said nothing. as you please. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. He mentioned this. "Yes. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass. The point is that you're one of the house team. young man. That's what you've got." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. you do. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. It was not according to his complicated. Just because you've got your second." said Mike." "I don't. you went to sleep again. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. "Do--you--see. and I've seen it coming on.

and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. "That's the cats. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. A-ah!" He put down the glass. for a beaker full of the warm south." he said. Zam-buk's what you want. Well. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. full of the true. Always at it. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. "Do you see?" he asked again. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. but cheerful. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. Very heady. and surveyed Mike. as he had nearly done once before. "Oh. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. Wyatt came back. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech." . He set his teeth. If it's a broken heart. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. Failing that. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. and I suppose it always will be." He left the dormitory. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. and his feelings were hurt.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. Mike's jaw set more tightly. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. and stared at a photograph on the wall. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. I didn't hit the bull every time. which had put him in a very good humour with the world." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. water will do. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. What one really wants here is a row of stars. "What's your trouble?" he asked. Wyatt was worn out. I'll go down and look. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered.

" Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed." "I didn't turn up. "And why." "Why?" "I don't know. "Nothing like this old '87 water."He said I stuck on side.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul." said Mike morosely." "I mean. silent natures. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. but.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it. It's too early in the morning. "I say." "What! Why?" "Oh." he said. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were . but his eyes stared fixedly from above it. 'Talking of side. while I get dropped on if I break out. "Such body. my gentle che-ild. really. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. did he buttonhole you on your way to school. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture." "No. There are some things you simply can't do. blood as you are at cricket. 'Jackson. you'll have a rotten time here. and. Otherwise. and." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding." "In passing. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. You stick on side. The speaker then paused. you stick it on. If he's captain. look here. He winked in a friendly way. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in. a word in your ear. I defy any one to. I don't know. That's discipline. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator. Cheers from the audience. you've got to obey him." "I like you jawing about discipline. putting down the jug. drew a deep breath. that 'ere is. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. and say.

reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. Ripton. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. would go down before Wilborough. but it isn't done. His feelings were curiously mixed. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view." Mike made no reply. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. young Jackson. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. but each played each. About my breaking out. Eton. cheerful disregard of. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. for the first time in his life. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. and Wilborough formed a group. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. . you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. as far as games are concerned. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. the other you mustn't ever break. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. of which so much is talked and written. If Wyatt. In this way. rather. When you're a white-haired old man like me. That night. Dulwich. I thank you. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. really meant. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. He would have perished rather than admit it. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. and St. "me. Paul's are a third. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. or Wrykyn. Geddington. That was the match with Ripton. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. But this did not happen often. There was no actual championship competition. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. I don't know why. before the Ripton match. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side." he concluded modestly. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. most forms of law and order. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. Wrykyn. Until you learn that. having beaten Ripton. but it generally did. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. Haileybury. Tonbridge.saying--just so. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. if possible. or. Harrow.

"Well held. accordingly. and biz is biz. "Pleasure is pleasure. and Mr. But." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. the sorrier he was for him. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. but he was steady. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. he would have kept Bob In. Burgess was glad the thing was settled." said Burgess. and held it. In case of accident. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. and he hated to have to do it. If he could have pleased himself. and he had done well in the earlier matches. With him at short slip. He could write it after tea. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. One gave him no trouble. engrossed in his book. Spence had voted for Mike. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. Finally he had consulted Mr. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. From small causes great events do spring. and sprint. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. there was a week before the match. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. And. It was a difficult catch. . Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. He had fairly earned his place. There were two vacancies. Spence. as the poet has it.Burgess. he postponed the thing. After all. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. As it was. Bob got to it with one hand. feeling that life was good. The more he thought of it." "Banzai!" said Burgess. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. The report was more than favourable. * * * * * When school was over.

There'll be worse trouble if he does it again."Hullo." said Bob. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land." said the Gazeka. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. but one has one's personal ambitions. do you mean? Oh. "Young Jackson. Burgess passed on." he explained. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. in fact. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. "You're hot stuff in the deep." "I've just been to the Infirmary. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. and became the cricket captain again. "I couldn't get both hands to it. of course. What hard luck it was! There was he. That Burgess would feel. Firby-Smith. It was the cricket captain who. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house. There are many kinds of walk." "Good. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence. but it's all right." "The frightful kid cut it this morning." There was. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. He suppressed his personal feelings. and all the time the team was filled up. towards the end of the evening." "Oh. on being told of Mike's slackness. He'll be able to play on Saturday. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him. as who should say. "What's up?" inquired Burgess. it may be mentioned. his mind full of Bob once more. did not enter his mind. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast. nothing." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. It was decidedly a blow. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal." said Bob awkwardly. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. He was glad for the sake of the school." "Easy when you're only practising. and so he proceeded to tell . "This way for Iron Wills. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him.

For the initial before the name Jackson was R. than the one on that list. He looked at the paper. there had never been an R. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him. "Congratulate you. that looked less like an M. going out. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess." he said. As he stared. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. Mike scarcely heard him. as he was rather late. and passed on. Bob. met Bob coming in. "Congratulate you. "Hard luck!" said somebody. Bob. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. hurrying. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. Bob stared after him. * * * * * When. therefore. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. Since writing was invented. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before in detail. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. Trevor came out of the block. There was no possibility of mistake. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . Bob had beaten him on the tape. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob.

very long way off. it's jolly rummy. came down the steps. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school." "Thanks. When one has missed one's colours. There was a short silence. "Jolly glad you've got it. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. Here it is. "Got a letter from mother this morning." said Mike. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin. and Burgess agree with him." The thing seemed incredible. Not much in it." . Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. You're a cert. "Congratulate you. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one." said Mike." "My--what? you're rotting. if you want to read it. next year seems a very. You've got your first. Trevor moved on. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. you'll have three years in the first. Mike." "No. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's. Just then. Bob snatched gladly at the subject. It'll be something to do during Math. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike. I showed you the last one. for next year. No reason why he shouldn't. delicately." Bob endeavoured to find consolation." "Hope so. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. with equal awkwardness. This was no place for him." he said awkwardly. "I believe there's a mistake. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. I'm not. feeling very ill. They moved slowly through the cloisters. as the post was late." "Well."Seen what?" "Why the list. "Anyhow. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument. "Thanks awfully. Bob. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation. neither speaking. Go and look." said Bob. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears.

seeing Mike." "No. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter. there appeared on his face a worried. he stopped. but followed. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it. Mike was. "What's up?" asked Mike. even an irritated look. somebody congratulated Bob again.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. Bob appeared curiously agitated. He seemed to have something on his mind. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. and went up to the headmaster." Mike resented the tone. These things are like kicks on the shin. and Mike noticed. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. "Got that letter?" "Yes. seeing that the conversation was . The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel." said Mike amiably." he said. Haven't had time to look at it yet. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. and which in time disappears altogether. The disappointment was still there." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. When they had left the crowd behind." and."Marjory wrote. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate. as it were." "Why not here?" "Come on. and. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. I'll give it you in the interval. for the first time in her life. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. it's for me all right. that. too. with some surprise. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. "Read that." "After you. As they went out on the gravel. sitting up and taking nourishment. but it was lessened. A brief spell of agony. He looked round. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. I'll show it you outside. "Hullo. Mike heard the words "English Essay.

Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. it will be all through Mike. She was jolly sick about it. Phyllis has a cold. Have you got your first? If you have.-"I hope you are quite well.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. I am quite well. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two.S. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. She was a breezy correspondent. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. lead up to it. He read it during school.P. with a style of her own. Why don't you do that? "M. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. and display it to the best advantage. capped the headmaster and walked off. "P." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. Reggie made a duck. it . and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French. but usually she entertained rather than upset people. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag.apparently going to be one of some length. Bob had had cause to look worried. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter. He put the missive in his pocket." There followed a P.--This has been a frightful fag to write. and let it take its chance with the other news-items. I told her it served her right. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire. and ceased to wonder. Well. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. under the desk. and it's _the_ match of the season. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long.S. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him.

and Burgess was not likely to alter it. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids." Bob stared gloomily at his toes. "How do you mean?" said Mike. You know." said Mike. and would insist on having a look at my arm. Besides.." he said at last. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh." he broke off hotly." . He came down when you were away at Geddington." "Well. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it. he might at least have whispered them. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him.. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow. I don't know." "I didn't think you'd ever know. "I know I ought to be grateful. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. If he was going to let out things like that." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. They met at the nets. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. "Well?" said Bob. "I did. and all that. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all. Bob couldn't do much. "Of course. I couldn't choke him off. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. So it came out. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. "Did you read it?" "Yes.. that's how it was. it was beastly awkward. but she had put her foot right in it. "I mean. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way. The team was filled up. Marjory meant well. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was. is it all rot. Still. I suppose I am.

" CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. Or. The sensible man realises this. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. simply to think no more about them. "Well. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny." he said. When affairs get into a real tangle. I decide to remain here. anyhow." "What about it?" "Well. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. Others try to grapple with them. admitting himself beaten. "Well. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate." "Oh. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home. This is Philosophy. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. and slides out of such situations." Which he did. and happened to doze."I don't remember. . you got me out of a jolly bad hole." "I'm hanged if it is. but." said Bob to himself. and had a not unpleasant time. when he awoke. "Anyhow. When?" "That Firby-Smith business. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light." added Mike. and it grew so rapidly that." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair." He sidled off. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right. who sat down on an acorn one day. it's all over now. if one does not do that. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. but the air was splendid and the view excellent. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. He thought he would go home. He looked helplessly at Mike. he altered his plans. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. Half a second. "I must see Burgess about it. "I shall get in next year all right. finding this impossible. sixty feet from the ground. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. but it never does any good." Mike said. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. well. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. "Besides.

after Mike's fashion. You simply keep on saying you're all right. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. I don't know if it's occurred to you. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. in it. "But I must do something. Very sporting of your brother and all that. Besides. It would not be in the picture. consulted on the point." Bob agreed. confessed to the same to solve the problem. if possible." "I do. though. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this." said Bob. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. Bob should have done so. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. of course. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. now it's up. "I suppose you can't very well. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. at the moment. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. I could easily fake up some excuse. like the man in the oak-tree. Though. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. in council. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. "Still. It's not your fault. At which period he remarked a rum business. have to be carried through stealthily. but why should you do anything? You're all right. Tell you what. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. Imitate this man. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it." . seeing that the point is. and here you _are_. might find some way of making things right for everybody. These things. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. what you say doesn't help us out much. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. It's me. And Burgess. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. if they are to be done at school. and took the line of least resistance.

that's why you've got your first instead of him. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. but supposing you had. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours." "I don't care." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that. If you really want to know." "Smith oughtn't to have told you. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board. A bad field's bad enough. He's a young slacker. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge." "I'll tell you what you look like."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me." said Burgess. and then the top of your head'll come off. but a slack field wants skinning. so out he went. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board. That slight smile of yours will meet behind." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. thanks for reminding me. "Thanks. all right." "Well. if that's any good to you." "Anyhow. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind." "Mind the step. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets. with a brilliant display of front teeth. he did tell me. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time." "He isn't so keen. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say. as the Greek exercise books say. So long. As the distance between them lessened.. I've got my first." said Bob. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. So you see how it is. Wyatt. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his. I feel like--I don't know what." "Oh. expansive grin. Not that you did. whatever happens. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant . he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face." said Neville-Smith. You sweated away. At any rate. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. if you don't look out.

Clephane is." "They ought to allow you a latch-key." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people. if you like. You can roll up. I'll try to do as little damage as possible. And Beverley. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders. I get on very well. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make. Still." "Good man. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one." As Wyatt was turning away. It'll be the only one lighted up. It's just above the porch. for one. eleven'll do me all right. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep. We shall have rather a rag. which I have--well. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. for goodness sake." "The race is degenerating. and I'll come down. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. All the servants'll have gone to bed. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me." "Yes. I shall manage it. a sudden compunction seized upon . Anything for a free feed in these hard times. After all. if I did." "You _will_ turn up." "But one or two day-boys are coming.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. anyhow it's to-night. can't you?" "Delighted." "No." "So will the glass--with a run. I'm going to get the things now. Make it a bit earlier. They all funked it. Heave a pebble at it. nor iron bars a have at home in honour of my getting my first. I expect." "Said it wasn't good enough. Still. I needn't throw a brick. You'll see the window of my room." "The school is going to the dogs.

No expense has been spared. though. They've no thought for people's convenience here. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first." "I shall do my little best not to be. "What's up?" he asked. I've got to climb two garden walls." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well." "Oh. I shall probably get bitten to the bone." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR. Still. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. merriest day of all the glad New Year. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten." said Wyatt. we must make the best of things. getting back. APPLEBY "You may not know it. I should have gone out anyhow to-night. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night. I've used all mine. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse. and the wall by the . I don't know if he keeps a dog. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence. If so. you don't think it's too risky. He called him back. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. Rather tricky work. but he did not state his view of the case. Ginger-beer will flow like water. you always are breaking out at night. "Don't you worry about me. do you? I mean." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. that's all right. "I say. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie." "Don't go getting caught. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours.Neville-Smith. "but this is the maddest." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. All you have to do is to open the window and step out. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor.

and was in the lane within a minute. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. "What a night!" he said to himself. This was the route which he took to-night. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. It was a glorious July night. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open.potting-shed was a feline club-house. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. Appleby. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. and let himself out of the back door. He was fond of his garden. Then he decided on the latter. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. The window of his study was open. for instance. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. There was a full moon. He was in plenty of time. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. ran lightly across it. but the room had got hot and stuffy. it is true. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. From here he could see the long garden. the master who had the house next to Mr. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. which had suffered on the two walls. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. They were all dark. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. he climbed another wall. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. Wain's. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. There he paused. and get a decent show for one's money in . Appleby. whatever you did to it. At present there remained much to be done. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. dusted his trousers. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. sniffing as he walked. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. Why not. Crossing this. true. Much better have flowers. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town.

Breaking out at night.summer at any rate. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. however. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. close his eyes or look the other way. Appleby had left his chair. the extent of the damage done. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. examining. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. It was not an easy question. liked and respected by boys and masters. . but he may use his discretion. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. and. Mr. on hands and knees. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. to the parents. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. of course. He receives a salary for doing this duty. Appleby that first awoke to action. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. and remember that he is in a position of trust. With a sigh of relief Mr. and rose to his feet. It was on another plane. He always played the game. and indirectly. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. it was not serious. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. He knew that there were times when a master might. through the headmaster. treat it as if it had never happened. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. he would have done so. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. bade him forget the episode. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. He paused. As far as he could see. He went his way openly. Appleby. Appleby. without blame. The surprise. wondering how he should act. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. was a different thing altogether. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. As he dropped into the lane. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. Sentiment. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. he had recognised him. with the aid of the moonlight. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was.

" said Mr. The blind shot up. He tapped on the window. like a sea-beast among rocks. I'm afraid.This was the conclusion to which Mr. Appleby came over his relighted pipe. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. He could not let the matter rest where it was. Appleby." Mr. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. Wain. in the middle of which stood Mr. "Can I have a word with you. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. . Wain. The thing still rankled. if you don't mind. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. and squeezed through into the room. greatly to Mr. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. Wain?" he said. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. I'll climb in through here. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. and walked round to Wain's. Appleby. Mr. Mr. Exceedingly so. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. only it's something important. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows." "Sorry. He turned down his lamp." And. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border." began Mr. "I'll smoke. About Wyatt. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. but they would have to wait. Mr. shall I? No need to unlock the door.

Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. Exceedingly so." "You must have been mistaken." "No." said Mr. "Let's leave it at that." Mr. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. You can deal with the thing directly. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory." "I will. this is most extraordinary. You are quite right. Dear me. It's like daylight out of doors. and have it out with him. It isn't like an ordinary case. You're the parent. He hoped . Appleby. If you come to think of it." "You astound me." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred. He was wondering what would happen. You are not going?" "Must. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly."James! In your garden! Impossible. and. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself." "There is certainly something in what you say. That is a very good idea of yours. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents." Mr. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. He had taken the only possible course." "Bars can be removed. sit down. That is certainly the course I should pursue. "I ought to report it to the headmaster. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. Wain on reflection." "He's not there now. Tackle the boy when he comes in. I am astonished. a little nettled. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence." said Mr. Appleby. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster. He would have no choice. Got a pile of examination papers to look over. Appleby offered no suggestion. Why. Sorry to have disturbed you." "I don't see why. "What shall I do?" Mr. Good-night. Yes. then. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled. Appleby." "Possibly." "So was I." "Good-night. Appleby. "A good deal. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster.

Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. Wyatt he had regarded.. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. and then consider the episode closed. This breaking-out. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. The moon shone in through the empty space. was the last straw. Appleby had been right. he felt. the life of an assistant master at a public school. Mr. But the other bed was empty.. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. He had been working hard. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. a sorrowful.. and waited there in the semi-darkness. and nothing else. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. and walked quietly upstairs. therefore. He liked Wyatt. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers.. He took a candle.. by silent but mutual agreement. It was not all roses. The light of the candle fell on both beds. if he were to be expelled. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. If further proof had been needed. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. so much as an exasperated. least of all in those many years younger than himself. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. thinking. asleep. as a complete nuisance. He blew the candle out. Mike was there. If he had gone out.they would not. and the night was warm. broken by various small encounters. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. it was true. It was not. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. Mr. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. . It would be a thousand pities. Mr. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. he reflected wrathfully. He grunted. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. one of the bars was missing from the window. he would hardly have returned yet. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. Lately. pondering over the news he had heard. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality..

and the letter should go by the first post next day. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. Wyatt should not be expelled. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. and rubbed his hands together. At that moment Mr. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. asking them to receive his step-son at once. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. and that immediately. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. is that you. "Hullo!" said Mike. Mr. Mike saw him start. as the house-master shifted his position. Wain. Wain relit his candle. But he should leave. "James!" said Mr. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. . "Go to sleep. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. His voice sounded ominously hollow. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. He lay down again without a word. "Hullo. immediately. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt." snapped the house-master. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. Wyatt dusted his knees. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. Jackson. The time had come to put an end to it. Then he seemed to recover himself.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. father!" he said pleasantly. but could hear nothing. There was literally no way out.

my little Hyacinth. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. To Mike. sir. rolling with laughter. do you think?" "Ah." said Wyatt at last." "I got a bit of a start myself. now. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up." "Yes. Exceedingly astonished. Mike began to get alarmed. "Yes. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. "I say. I shall be sorry to part with you. About an hour. it seemed a long silence.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. "I am astonished. Wyatt!" said Mike. I say. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. "But. holding his breath." said Wyatt. "That reminds me. He flung himself down on his bed. Suppose I'd better go down. what!" "But. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. sir. Then Mr. I say. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. Speaking at a venture. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly." He left the room. it's awful. Wain spoke. Me sweating to get in quietly. "You have been out.' We . The swift and sudden boot. "It's all right." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. I suppose. really. Follow me there." said Wyatt. lying in bed. speaking with difficulty." "What'll he do. "I shall talk to you in my study.

"Exceedingly.shall meet at Philippi." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . Wyatt sat down. I follow. Wain took up a pen. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. James?" Wyatt said nothing. out of the house. I suppose I'd better go down." "The fact is----" said Wyatt. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter. choking sob." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. sir. Wain jumped nervously." he said. "It slipped. and began to tap the table. sir. Mr. Where are me slippers? Ha." Mr. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long. That'll be me. may I inquire. "Sit down." explained Wyatt. sir. sir." "And. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. at that hour?" "I went for a walk." "What were you doing out of your dormitory. "Well?" "I haven't one." "Not likely. 'tis well! Lead on. "Only my slipper. This is my Moscow. Well. "Well. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes." "What?" "Yes." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. minions. James." * * * * * In the study Mr." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_. Don't go to sleep. then.

" "I need hardly say." continued Mr. I mean. James. watching it. ignoring the interruption. In a minute or two he would be asleep. It is not fitting." Wyatt nodded. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. "I am sorry. they only gain an extra fortnight of me. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. and resumed the thread of his discourse. Wain suspended tapping operations. exceedingly. You will not go to school to-morrow." "You will leave directly I receive his letter.motor-car. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. "I wish you wouldn't do that. even were I disposed to do so. . "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you." "Of course. Do you understand? That is all. father. "As you know. Exceedingly so. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No." said Wyatt laconically. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. You must leave the school. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme. It is impossible for me to overlook it. Only it _was_ sending me off. to see this attitude in you." said Wyatt. sir. but this is a far more serious matter." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry. Wyatt. Tap like that. Wain. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all." Mr. James. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately. At once. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. "It is expulsion. It's sending me to sleep." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. approvingly.

yes. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon." said Wyatt cheerfully. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk." Burgess's first thought. He isn't coming to school again. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy. was for his team. "Oh. "Buck up. . CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly. here you are. or some rot. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. The reflection was doubtless philosophic." Mike was miserably silent. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school. all amongst the ink and ledgers."No. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. Mike." he said. and began to undress. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. Burgess came up. I shoot off almost immediately. "Anybody seen young--oh. father. as an actual spectator of the drama. as befitted a good cricket captain. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda." "What? When?" "He's left already. but it failed to comfort him. he's got to leave. "What happened?" "We chatted. was in great request as an informant. Wain were public property.

and he's taken him away from the school." agreed Mike. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. that's the part he bars most. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. Mike!" said Bob. withdrawn. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. however. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match." "I should like to say good-bye. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. They met in the cloisters. "Hullo." continued Burgess. There was. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. As a matter of fact. though!" he added after a pause. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. without enthusiasm. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. Look here. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit." "All right. one exception to the general rule. anyway. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . "I say. you see. Wyatt was his best friend. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. his pal." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes. You'll play on Saturday. last night after Neville-Smith's. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. Hope he does." "He'll find it rather a change. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. You know. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. during the night. Bob was the next to interview him. I expect." said Mike. young Jackson. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess. Not unless he comes to the dorm. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. "All the same.

with a forced and grisly calm." . He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished. Jackson. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon. "It was all my fault. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. plunged in meditation. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. Only our first. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale. "It was absolutely my fault. "What's up?" asked Bob. "Only that. as far as I can see. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. That's all." "Oh. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything." said Mike. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. where Mike left him. this wouldn't have happened. "Nothing much. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. "If it hadn't been for me. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news." he said at length." said Burgess. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. way. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval. Bob. Well. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. I don't know. by the way. "I say." "Neville-Smith! Why. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven. They walked on without further Wain's gate. In extra on Saturday. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first.

" "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. Mike.C. three years ago. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. did he?" Mike.C. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. "I wanted to see you. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. made. where countless sheep lived and had their being. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. as most other boys of his age would have been. Stronger than the one we drew with." Burgess grunted. his father had gone over there for a visit. who believed in taking no chances." "By Jove. .C. glad to be there again. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt. or was being. So Mr." said Bob. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. "I say. too. He never chucked the show altogether. that's to say. he had a partner. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine. I'll write to father to-night. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. They whacked the M. And he can ride. "Very. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. I know. Jolly hot team of M." "Oh. he'd jump at anything. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. to start with. the Argentine Republic. and once. Mike was just putting on his pads. Wain's dressing-room." "By Jove. It's about Wyatt. Like Mr. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. presumably on business. Spenlow. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. He's a jolly good shot. He must be able to work it. I may hold a catch for a change. If it comes off. I've thought of something. I should think. All these things seemed to show that Mr.C."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank. Bob went on his way to the nets. for lack of anything better to say. As a matter of fact. from all accounts. well.

sir. Racquets?" "Yes. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit." "Everything?" "Yes.. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager.." His advent had apparently caused little sensation. but to the point." "Play football?" "Yes.. by a Beginner. sir. Mr. Wyatt?" "Yes. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger. Jackson's letter was short." "H'm . which had run as follows: "Mr. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. sir. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield. but that. sir.. Well. there was no reason why something should not be done for him. Wyatt's letter was longer. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters. you won't get any more of it now." "H'm ." "Cricketer?" "Yes. In any case he would buy him a lunch. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs.locked from the outside on retiring to rest. He said that he hoped something could be managed." After which a Mr. These letters he would then stamp. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer.. and subsequently take in bundles to the . if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability. sir. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast." "H'm . CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match. sir.. Sportsman?" "Yes.

" * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. and go in office. To do only averagely well. Spence. 'Hints for Young Criminals." said Burgess. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. inspecting the wicket with Mr. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius. Even twenty. as a member of the staff. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. sir. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. would be as useless as not playing at all. Burgess." said Mr. Wyatt. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M. match. There were twelve colours given three years ago. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. "I should cook the accounts. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. Spence. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. "Or even Wyatt. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office.' So long. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. But it doesn't seem in my line. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting. It would just suit him. The Ripton match was a special event." Mr. if I were you. Still. by J. It was a day on which to win the toss. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. "Just what I was thinking. when the match was timed to begin. if it got the school out of a tight place.' which is a sort of start. if the sun comes out. Burgess.C. this. "Who will go on first with you. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. was not slow to recognise this fact. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps." wrote Wyatt. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. Honours were heaped upon him. Burgess?" . Mind you make a century. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles.C. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. to be among the ruck. I suppose." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. It had stopped late at night. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. At eleven-thirty. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. "I should win the toss to-day.

my friend said he had one very dangerous ball." "Well." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine. Plays racquets for them too. On a dry. "We'll go in first. I don't know of him. This end." "Tails it is. I've lost the toss five times running. Mac. I suppose?" "Yes--after us. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now. "It's a nuisance too."Who do you think. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads. A boy called de Freece. I must tell the fellows to look out for it." said Burgess." "I must win the toss. He was crocked when they came here. though. The other's yours. You call." "Oh. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. were old acquaintances. "Certainly. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling. It's a hobby of mine. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance. of the Bosanquet type." said Burgess ruefully. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long. "but I think we'll toss. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. Ellerby. They had been at the same private school. the Ripton captain." "I know the chap." "I should. and comes in instead. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip." said Maclaine." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this. Looks as if it were going away. I believe. well." "I don't think a lot of that. so I was bound to win to-day. "One consolation is. win the toss." "Heads. And. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. He wasn't in the team last year. above all." "You'll put us in." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow. He's a pretty useful chap all round. I think. it might have been all right." said Burgess. that's a . about our batting.

comfort. Maclaine. as it did on this occasion. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. The pitch had begun to play tricks. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. but which did not always break. The change worked. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. and was certain to get worse. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. Burgess. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. Buck up and send some one in. seventy-four for three wickets. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. Burgess began to look happier. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. They plodded on. Twenty came in ten minutes. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. but it means that wickets will fall. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. They meant to force the game. held it. as also happened now. gave place to Grant." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. The sun. but the score. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. Then . he was compelled to tread cautiously. as he would want the field paved with it. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. and Bob. run out. The score mounted rapidly. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. as it generally does. and let's get at you. At sixty Ellerby. The policy proved successful for a time. which was now shining brightly. Dashing tactics were laid aside. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. So Ripton went in to hit. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. Another hour of play remained before lunch. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down.

What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing.Ellerby. when a quarter to two arrived. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. and with it the luncheon interval. missed his second. The other batsman played out the over. did what Burgess had failed to do. it was not a yorker. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. and de Freece. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. when Ellerby. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. Every run was invaluable now. and it will be their turn to bat. a semicircular stroke. medium-paced yorker. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. they resent it. That period which is always so dangerous. as they walked . came off with distressing frequency. the slow bowler. found his leg-stump knocked back. The last man had just gone to the wickets. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. He had made twenty-eight. the ten minutes before lunch. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. A four and a three to de Freece. it was not straight. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. And when he bowled a straight ball. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. So far it was anybody's game. who had gone on again instead of Grant. His record score. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. for the last ten minutes. Just a ball or two to the last man. He bowled a straight. and his one hit. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. but he had also a very accurate eye. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. when the wicket is bad. he explained to Mike. swiping at it with a bright smile.

" he said. For goodness sake. But ordinary standards would not apply here. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. would be anything record-breaking. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. But Berridge survived the ordeal. He thought it was all right. and not your legs. stick a bat in the way. Morris was the tenth case." "Hear that. if he doesn't look out. The tragedy started with the very first ball. and make for the pavilion. for this or any ground." said Burgess helpfully.-b. . emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. when done. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative. rather than confidence that their best." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l.-b.-w. "It's that googly man. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. "Thought the thing was going to break. but it didn't." said Burgess blankly. "L. You must look out for that. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. Hullo. He breaks like sin all over the shop. On a bad wicket--well. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings. "Morris is out. First ball. hard condition.-w. Berridge. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven. "That chap'll have the pavilion. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. Berry? He doesn't always break. he said. It would have been a gentle canter for them. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket. Berry. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true. A grim determination to do their best.

"This is all right.. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. "It's getting trickier every minute. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then. He sent them down medium-pace. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. "One for two. He got up. Bob's out!. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. With the score Freece. Mike nodded. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain." ." Ellerby echoed the remark. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. By George. and took off his blazer. he isn't. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. No. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. "The only thing is. Ten for two was not good. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride. The wicket'll get better. and the second tragedy occurred. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. stumped. but it was considerably better than one for two. He started to play forward. if we can only stay in. The cloud began to settle again. Mike was silent and thoughtful. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. Ellerby took off his pads. jumping out to drive. broke it. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational." said Ellerby." he said. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's.This brought Marsh to the batting end. he was smartly at thirty. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. He was in after Bob. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. we might have a chance. Bob was the next man in. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. and scoring a couple of twos off it. Last man duck. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion.. but this the next ball. The voice of the scorer. The last of the over had him in two minds. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. He had then.

The melancholy youth put up the figures. There was no sense of individuality." said Ellerby. on the board. "Forty-one for four. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school.. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here. Oh..C." said Mike. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. and try and knock that man de Freece off. and had nearly met the same fate. "I'm going to shove you down one." he said. 5. more by accident than by accurate timing. Every little helps." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality." said Mike.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. however." "Bob's broken his egg. "Good man. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. the batsmen crossed. He was cool.. had fumbled the ball. "That's the way I was had. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. If only somebody would knock him off his length. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover." said Ellerby. Mike. 54. The wicket-keeper. 12. as Ellerby had done. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke. I believe we might win yet. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. you silly ass. which was repeated. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed. Jackson." said Ellerby. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. A howl of delight went up from the school. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist.C. When he had gone out to bat against the M. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. was not conscious of any particular nervousness. _fortissimo_. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied." "All right. Berridge was out by a yard. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite. But now his feelings were different. when. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. He came to where Mike was sitting. as if it were some one else's. . He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. "I shall go in next myself and swipe.

It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. Mike jumped out. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. considering his pace. He felt that he knew where he was now.Fitness.-b. and he had smothered them. The umpire shook his head. or very little. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. to do with actual health. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast.-w. finer players. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. And Mike took after Joe. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. and hit it before it had time to break. They had been well pitched up. He knew what to do now. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. in school matches. De Freece said nothing. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. that he was at the top of his batting form. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. but this time off the off-stump. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. But something seemed to whisper to him. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. Joe would be in his element. The ball hit his right pad. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. as he settled himself to face the bowler. Indeed. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. apparently. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. Mike had faced half-left. and whipped in quickly. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. and stepped back. a comfortable three. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. The next ball was of the same length. . He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. It has nothing. It pitched slightly to leg. and not short enough to take liberties with. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys.

he lifted over the other boundary. His departure upset the scheme of things. but he was full of that conviction.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic. to a hundred. he made a lot of runs. He had an excellent style. the score mounted to eighty. in the pavilion. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. or he's certain to get out. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. Apparently. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. Mike could see him licking his lips. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. . A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs." "You ass. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. mainly by singles." said Ellerby. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. nor Grant. It was a long-hop on the off. and de Freece's pet googly. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. In the present case. And. To-day he never looked like settling down. But Mike did not get out. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey." said Berridge. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. (Two years later. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. "Don't say that." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. that this was his day. For himself he had no fear now. He survived an over from de Freece. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. thence to ninety. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. "Sixty up. and the wicket was getting easier. The last ball of the over. Practically they had only one. At a hundred and four. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. and made twenty-one. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. the next man in. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. was a promising rather than an effective bat. He might possibly get out off his next ball. There was nervousness written all over him. Henfrey. He had made twenty-six. for neither Ashe. and so. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. a half-volley to leg. however. but he was uncertain.

But each time luck was with him." said the umpire. taken up a moment later all round the ground. or we're done. but this happened now. Forty to win! A large order. "Come on. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. As it was. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. and he would have been run out. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. and set his teeth. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. The next over was doubly sensational. "collar the bowling all you know. It rolled in the direction of third man." shouted Grant. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. But it was going to be done. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs.. A distant clapping from the pavilion. and it was possible to take liberties. announced that he had reached his fifty. The wicket was almost true again now. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. it all but got through Mike's defence. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. was well-meaning but erratic. and a school prefect to boot. Another fraction of a second. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. but even so." "All right." he whispered. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end." said Mike. Jackson. "Over. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off.. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. "For goodness sake. But he did not score. The fast bowler. Mike took them. Could he go up to him and explain that he. I shall get outed first ball.He was not kept long in suspense. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at. he stopped it. . During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty.. But the sixth was of a different kind. The last ball of the over he mishit. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in.

The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. The school broke into one great howl of joy." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. and rolled back down the pitch. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run." said Maclaine." continued he. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. meeting Burgess in the pavilion. For four balls he baffled the attack. Mike's knees trembled. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. * * * * * "Good game. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. Grant looked embarrassed." "The funny part of it is. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. I say. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. A great stillness was over all the ground. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . and the bowling was not de Freece's. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. Brother of the other one. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub." said Maclaine. by the way?" "Eighty-three. There were still seven runs between them and victory. and touched the off-stump. Point and the slips crowded round. He bowled rippingly. Mike had got the bowling. The next moment the crisis was past." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. It was young Jackson. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. A bail fell silently to the ground. but determined. It was an awe-inspiring moment. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. The fifth curled round his bat.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. rough luck on de Freece.

conversationally." He opened the letter and began to read. "There's a letter from Wyatt. interested. "Buck up. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. but was headed off. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper." added Phyllis." explained Gladys Maud. in a victory for Marjory. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke." said Ella. who had duly secured the stakes." said Marjory. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt." said Mr. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee. Mike's place was still empty." began Gladys Maud.It was a morning in the middle of September. Mike. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. Mr. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. including Gladys Maud. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man." "I wish Mike would come and open it. Mrs." . "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. Jackson was reading letters. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres. The hour being nine-fifteen. The rest. "He gives no details. had settled down to serious work. "Bushrangers. "I've had a letter from MacPherson." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory." said Phyllis. referred to in a previous chapter. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. Jackson) had resulted. "Bush-ray. but expects to be fit again shortly. He's been wounded in a duel. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. Mike read on. bush-ray." she shouted. The Jacksons were breakfasting. through the bread-and-milk. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. "Bush-ray. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep." "With a bushranger. "Is there?" said Mike. Jackson. bush-ray. "Sorry I'm late.

It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. "Anyhow. a good chap who can't help being ugly." said Marjory. After a bit we overtook him. and his day's work was done. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. We nipped on to a couple of horses. so he came to us and told us what had happened. Jackson. it was practically a bushranger."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. Here you are. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. which has crocked me for the time being. I thought he was killed at first. proceeded to cut the fence. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . and dropped poor old Chester.. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. but it turned out it was only his leg." said Phyllis... In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. and tooled after him. instead of shifting off. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder. he wanted to ride through our place.. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. This is what he says. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol.. and coming back. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. so I shall have to stop. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here. Well. That's the painful story. summing up. pulled out our revolvers. and go through that way. "I told you it was a duel. Hurt like sin afterwards. and missed him clean every time. an Old Wykehamist. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. and it was any money on the Gaucho. I got going then." said Mike. A chap called Chester. Missed the first shot. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. I say. So this rotter. Only potted him in the leg. "No. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. so excuse bad writing.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. and I were dipping sheep close by. I picked it up. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. It happened like this. He fired as we came up. and so it was. and that's when the trouble began. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. Chester was unconscious. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. Jackson.. which had fallen just by where I came down. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. and loosed off.

who had put her hair up a fortnight before." said Mike philosophically." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr." she said." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. the meal was nearly over." Marjory was bustling about." "He didn't mean it really. Jackson had gone into the kitchen. as usual. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face. as she always did. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention. Father didn't say anything. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. and did the thing thoroughly. Blake used to write when you were in his form. He looked up interested. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents. She was fond of her other brothers." . that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end. "I say. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. but Mike was her favourite." Mike seemed concerned. she would do it only as a favour. It's the first I've had from Appleby. When he came down on this particular morning. that's a comfort. Jackson had disappeared. while Marjory. Mike. "Hullo. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. as Mr. "I'm a bit late. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you. taking his correspondence with him. even for Joe. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket. "Your report came this morning. looked on in a detached sort of way. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer." "Have you? Thanks awfully. Mr. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope. She had adopted him at an early age. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. Mike." "No. But he was late. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had." said Marjory. jumping up as he entered. Mrs. fetching and carrying for Mike. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her." she said. though for the others. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table.

"you'll make a century every match next term. it's a beastly responsibility." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. It was early in the Easter holidays. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. Jackson was an understanding sort of man. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. was delighted. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. Let's go and see. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting. "You _are_." Mike's jaw fell slightly. and Mike was to reign in his stead. was not returning next term. She was kept busy. Mike. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser. I've been hunting for you. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two.C. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve.C. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report. Phyllis met him. He seems--" added Phyllis. From time to time. Mr. By the way." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. however. Master Mike. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. Everybody says you are." "What for?" "I don't know. At night sometimes he would lie awake. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the . I wonder if he's out at the net now. but already he was beginning to find his form. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. Saunders. minor match type. "in a beastly wax. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. appalled by the fear of losing his form. As he was walking towards the house. father wants you. He had filled out in three years. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match." Henfrey." was his muttered exclamation."What ho!" interpolated Mike. He liked the prospect. who treated his sons as companions. on the arrival of Mr. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets. "Oh. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now." "I wish I wasn't." he said. Why. indeed." "Where?" "He's in the study. He had always had the style. and now he had the strength as well. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him.

"Come in. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so." "Oh. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor. There followed an awkward silence. "It is. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. scented a row in the offing. not once." said Mr. with a sort of sickly interest. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. he paused. both in and out of school.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. and Mr. "'His conduct. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump." Mike. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now. It was on this occasion that Mr." replied Mr. therefore.previous term." said his father. Jackson. that Jackson entered the study. Jackson in measured tones. kicking the waste-paper basket. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. Book Two.'" quoted Mr. "I want to speak to you. Jackson. "your report." "'Latin poor. but on several occasions. Mike. is that my report.'" "We were doing Thucydides. very poor. which he declines to use in the smallest degree." "'Mathematics bad. "I want you to listen to this report." "Oh. Greek. "'French bad. . father?" said Mike. I say!" groaned the record-breaker. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering. skilled in omens. Inattentive and idle. what is more.'" "It wasn't anything really. Jackson was a man of his word. there had been something not unlike a typhoon. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub." "Here are Mr.

He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. Mike said nothing." Mr. perhaps. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. or their Eight to Bisley. but still blithely). "I am sending you to Sedleigh.' There is more to the same effect."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. pure and simple. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. and for that reason he said very little now. and Mr. Jackson." Mike's heart thumped." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. and there was an end of it." Barlitt was the vicar's son. He did not approve of it. "It is not a large school. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer. but it has one merit--boys work there. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye." he said. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. Mike?" said Mr. spectacled youth who did not enter . folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. his father. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole." was his next remark. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. The tragedy had happened. birds were twittering. Mr. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence. He knew it would be useless. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. He understood cricket. a silent. Mr." he said blankly. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket. when he made up his mind. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. "I shall abide by what I said. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. Mike's point of view was plain to him. He understood him. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. Jackson was sorry for Mike. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man.

The future seemed wholly gloomy. and Mike. And. so far from attempting to make the best of things. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. You can't miss it. sir." "Right. Jackson. George!" "I'll walk. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. for instance. pulled up again. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus. sir. sir. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. He hated the station. Also the boots he wore. bustling up. It's straight on up this road to the school. He disliked his voice. got up.very largely into Mike's world. sir. Then he got out himself and looked about him." said Mike. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. Mike nodded. sorrier for himself than ever." said the porter. "Mr. sir. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. "Young gents at the school. opened the door. A sombre nod." "Here you are. thanks." said Mike frigidly. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train." "Thank you. and said. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. sir. "So you're back from Moscow. and the colour of his hair. sir. "For the school. but not much conversation had ensued. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. Barlitt's mind was massive. "It's a goodish step. Hi." added Mr. Mike said nothing. and the man who took his ticket. his appearance. It's waiting here. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said. It was such . He thought. He walked off up the road. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place." "Worse luck. seeing the name of the station. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter.

He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. The football fifteen had been hopeless. if he survived a few overs. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. at that. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. Burgess. sir. Once he crossed a river. "Yes. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. and had lost both the Ripton matches. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look.absolutely rotten luck. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. might make a century in an hour." . It was soon after this that he caught sight. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. Wrykyn. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. too. and was shown into a room lined with books. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. About now. going in first. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. "Jackson?" he said mildly. and knocked. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. He had never been in command. on top of all this. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. the return by over sixty points. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. would be weak this year. There were three houses in a row. And now. Strachan was a good. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. Enderby. But it was not the same thing. Outwood. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. And as captain of cricket. Now it might never be used. from the top of a hill. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. Mike went to the front door. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. Outwood's. Presently the door opened. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. but he was not to be depended upon. This must be Sedleigh. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. who would be captain in his place. He inquired for Mr. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. and. but almost as good. now that he was no longer there. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. Outwood. Which was the bitter part of it. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. and the house-master appeared. Outwood's was the middle one of these. free bat on his day.

That sort of idea. Bishop Geoffrey. that's to say. What's yours?" . It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. Quite so." said the immaculate one. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have." he said. It was a little hard." said Mike. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. sir?" "What? Yes. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket. I think you might like a cup of tea. "Take a seat. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses." he added pensively. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. finding his bearings. A Nursery Garden in the Home. then. very glad indeed. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. But this room was occupied. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. where they probably played hopscotch. "Hullo. You will find the matron in her room. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. Good-bye for the present. in Shropshire. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. Jackson. Personally. Ambrose. I understand. standing quite free from the apse wall. As Mike entered. He strayed about." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. good-bye. "is Smith. He spoke in a tired voice. Quite so. Oh. Jackson. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. A very long. It will well repay a visit. and fixed it in his right eye. All alone in a strange school. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. In many respects it is unique. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place."I am very glad to see you. "Hullo. Jackson. yes. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. My name. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. with chamfered plinth. said he had not. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. You come from Crofton. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays. he spoke. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. his gloom visibly deepened. was leaning against the mantelpiece. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. thin youth.

the P not being sounded. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. so I don't know. "but I've only just arrived. "No. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. I shall found a new dynasty. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk." he resumed. everybody predicting a bright career for me. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. yes. for choice. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. But. and got it." "But why Sedleigh." said Mike. We now pass to my boyhood. See? There are too many Smiths. Sedleigh gains." "Bad luck. "Let us start at the beginning. the name Zbysco. At an early age. Sit down on yonder settee.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. I was superannuated last term." said Mike. Cp. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). there's just one thing. "it was not to be. When I was but a babe. But what Eton loses. then?" "Yes! Why. or simply Smith. too. "Are you the Bully. "My infancy. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. before I start. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope." said Psmith solemnly. and see that I did not raise Cain. the Pride of the School." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike." "No?" said Mike. . See?" Mike said he saw. If you ever have occasion to write to me." "For Eton. By the way. I was sent to Eton. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. and I don't care for Smythe.

Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. It's a great scheme." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. Bit off his nut. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. "hangs a tale. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. dusting his right trouser-leg. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. We are practically long-lost brothers. To get off cricket. Sheep that have gone astray. The vicar told the curate. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday. together we may worry through. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten." "Wrykyn. we fall. Cheer a little. who told my father." said Psmith. And. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. A noble game. laddie."That was the man. Lost lambs. will you? I've just become a Socialist. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. who told our vicar. Jawed about apses and things. who told our curate. "You have heard my painful story." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. prowling about. We are companions in misfortune." "I am with you. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable." said Psmith. Now tell me yours. We must stick together." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. The son of the vicar." . "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something. mark you. You won't mind my calling you Comrade. There's a libel action in every sentence. Divided. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. It goes out on half-holidays. You work for the equal distribution of property. Outwood. He could almost have embraced Psmith. run by him. There's an Archaeological Society in the school. You ought to be one. and so on. Comrade Jackson. His dislike for his new school was not diminished. but a bit too thick for me." "And thereby. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform.

" said Psmith approvingly. Above all. hand in hand. and straightening his tie. We shall thus improve our minds. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter." "Good idea. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. I suppose they have studies here. "'Tis well. This is practical Socialism." he said. hung on a nail. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol." said Mike. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. You and I. "is the exact programme." he said. and a looking-glass. "This'll do us well. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there. "We will. and have a jolly good time as well. at any rate. It was a biggish room. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. Psmith approved the resolve. as it were. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. "Might have been made for us. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. Let's go and look." "Not now. was one way of treating the situation."I'm not going to play here. and get our names shoved down for the Society. We must stake out our claims." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure. A chap at Wrykyn." "It would take a lot to make me do that. "Stout fellow. and do a bit on our own account. and one not without its meed of comfort. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. There were a couple of deal tables. called Wyatt. Psmith opened the first of these. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. He had made up his mind on this point in the train." said Psmith." . looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. looking out over the school grounds. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp. We will snare the elusive fossil together. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme." said Mike." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other. we will go out of bounds." "Then let's beat up a study." They went upstairs. two empty bookcases. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown.

Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. A rattling at the handle followed."His misfortune. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. It's got an Etna and various things in it. What's this. and begins to talk about himself. I had several bright things to say on the subject. not ours. We make progress." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. We make progress. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. could you." said Psmith sympathetically. sits down. if you want to be really useful. as he watched Mike light the Etna. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard. though. was rather a critic than an executant. Similarly. Do you think you could make a long arm. He was full of ideas." . What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. somebody comes right in. I wonder. though the idea was Psmith's. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. "Privacy." said Psmith. "You couldn't make a long arm." said Mike. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study." "These school reports. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. That putrid calendar must come down. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. "The weed. the first thing you know is. And now. "are the very dickens. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks." said Psmith. There are moments when one wants to be alone. and a voice outside said. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary." A heavy body had plunged against the door. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. Hullo.

and cheered himself with a sip of tea. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours." said Psmith. Come in and join us. "to restore our tissues after our journey. put up his eyeglass. "It's beastly cheek." said he. and screamed. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. A stout fellow." inquired the newcomer. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. He went straight to the root of the matter.Mike unlocked the door." "But we do. Homely in appearance. freckled boy. all might have been well. I am Psmith." he repeated. on arrival. it's beastly cheek. practical order. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly. and flung it open. Edwin!' And so. but one of us. "In this life. 'Edwin. "What the dickens. Spiller evaded the question. that's what I call it. and. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. we Psmiths. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. We keep open house. and this is my study." said Psmith. 'Edwin. a people that know not Spiller. Your father held your hand and said huskily. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. "It's beastly cheek. 'Don't go. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea. you find strange faces in the familiar room. deeply affected by his recital. "you stayed on till the later train." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. and said. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled. Comrade Spiller. perhaps. It is unusual for people to go about the place . Framed in the entrance was a smallish.' Too late! That is the bitter cry." "My name's Spiller. we must be prepared for every emergency. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. But no." Psmith went to the table. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible." said Psmith." said Psmith. "Well.

'Now we'll let her rip. Spiller. "are you going to take? Spiller. so. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point. and I'm next on the house list. Spiller pink and determined. 'I couldn't. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter. sir. . it's my study." Mr. you are unprepared. He cannot cope with the situation." "Not an unsound scheme. and Jackson. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in. we know. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once. let this be a lesson to you." said Psmith." "Look here. "And Smith." said Psmith." The trio made their way to the Presence." "Spiller's.' Take the present case. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. Mr. But what of Spiller. and Simpson's left. As it is." "But what steps. Mike sullen. Error! Ah. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way. "Ah. and the other's the accelerator. of course." he said. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed. and we stopped dead. Spiller. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. I'm going to have it. We may as well all go together. 'I wouldn't. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside." "We'll see what Outwood says about it. I am glad to see that you have already made friends. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares.' he said. Psmith particularly debonair. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. By no means a scaly project. Spiller. the man of Logic. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all. and skidded into a ditch. He hummed lightly as he walked. It was Simpson's last term.' So he stamped on the accelerator.bagging studies. The thing comes on you as a surprise. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. "All I know is.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. One's the foot-brake.

"Yes. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please. Most delighted. Boys came readily at his call." said Psmith. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. never had any difficulty in finding support. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join." pursued Psmith earnestly." said Psmith. though small. sir. "I understand. Smith. Smith. "Yes." "Spiller. while his own band." he said. "I am delighted. sir. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school. Downing." . sir. who presided over the School Fire Brigade." he said at last. Mr. "that accounts for it." "Ah. His colleague. "I have been unable to induce to join. This enthusiasm is most capital. "His heart is the heart of a little child. sir." "And Jackson's. Cricket and football. sir--" said Spiller." said Psmith sadly. sir. A grand pursuit. quite so. tolerantly. games that left him cold." "Please." Mr. This is capital. were in the main earnest. not at all." "Jackson. sir. I am very pleased. two miles from the school. Smith?" "Intensely. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times. Archaeology fascinates me. We have a small Archaeological Society." "Undoubtedly. Spiller. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. he is one of our oldest members. Do you want to join. Is there anything----" "Please. sir--" began Spiller. if you were not too busy. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday. Mr." "Not at all. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging. "One moment." "There is no vice in Spiller." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. Spiller." "Please. I--er--in a measure look after it." "Oh. Outwood beamed. Smith. "One moment. too!" Mr. very pleased indeed. Smith. appeared to be the main interest in their lives."Er--quite so. sir. I will put down your name at once. sir--" said Spiller. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band.

Spiller. A very good idea." "Yes." said Mike. sir." "Quite so. Spiller." "All this sort of thing. Spiller. "One moment. You should have spoken before. Quite so. We will move our things in. An excellent arrangement." "Certainly." "But. Spiller." shouted Spiller."We shall be there. I come next after Simpson. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings." he said. "Please. very trying for a man of culture. Smith. "is very. sir. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller. Edwin." "Thank you very much." said Psmith. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house. sir. if you could spare the time. sir." "Capital!" "Please. "This tendency to delay." He turned to Mr. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. Smith. "We should." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE . Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. sir. sir." "Quite so. sir. of course. "There is just one other matter. Outwood. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him." "Thank you very much. sir. always be glad to see Spiller in our study. sir--" said Spiller. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. Correct it. Smith. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday. "is your besetting fault. Fight against it. sir." said Psmith. as they closed the door.

" "And jam a chair against it. "He thinks of everything! You're the man. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once. "We ought to have known each other before." As they got up. "The difficulty is. though. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories. they can only get at us through the door. as you rightly remark. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be. but we must rout him out once more. but we can't stay all night. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home. he would not have appreciated it properly. we're all right while we stick here." "The loss was mine. "about when we leave this room. face the future for awhile. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. I don't like rows. jam a chair against it. with your permission. I say. the door handle rattled again." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off." Mike was finishing his tea. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree. Smith. We are as sons to him." he said. I mean." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. and this time there followed a knocking." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller." he said with approval. This place would have been wasted on Spiller. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. . if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart. and we can lock that. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. Here we are in a stronghold. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. Comrade Jackson." said Psmith."There are few pleasures." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this. there is nothing he can deny us." "_And_. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can." said Psmith courteously. "We will now.

" "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword. "He might get about half a dozen. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass." sighed Psmith." said Psmith approvingly." said Psmith. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. in his practical way. "I just came up to have a look at you. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it. with. for instance."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's." "How many _will_ there be. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room. not more. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it. "is cursing you like anything downstairs. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory." "As I suspected. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature. then?" asked Mike." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that. Do you happen to know of any snug little room. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged. "If you move a little to the left." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful." "Old Spiller. _I_ think Spiller's an ass. say." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour." "Sturdy common sense." said Psmith. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe. A light-haired youth with a cheerful. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets. "Let us parley with the man." giggled Jellicoe. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike. only it belongs to three . "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character." Mike unlocked the door." said Mike." said Psmith." said Psmith." he explained. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better.

sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down." "I believe in the equal distribution of property. "That door. as they returned to the study. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. sir. Comrade Spiller. The handle began to revolve again. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. the others waited outside. sir----" "Not at all. crowding . if you would have any objection to Jackson. Smith. Better leave the door open. and some other chaps. Things." said Psmith. it will save trouble." "We were wondering. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before." "And we can have the room. as the messenger departed." "You make friends easily. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position." Mr.chaps." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. "are beginning to move. Smith." said Psmith. "has sprung up between Jackson. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. come in." he said. "We must apologise for disturbing you. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder." "And now." he said. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help." This time it was a small boy." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. "Yes. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance. I like to see it--I like to see it. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith. Jellicoe and myself. I think. but shall be delighted to see him up here. Ah. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it. Smith?" he said.

Mike. the enemy gave back. was it? Well. "They'll have it down. The dogs of war are now loose. Jellicoe giggled in the background. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. always." cried Spiller suddenly. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below. "Who was our guest?" he asked. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. and the handle." "You'll get it hot. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. but Mike had been watching. "A neat piece of work. Comrade Spiller. "Look here. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. For a moment the doorway was blocked." said Jellicoe. "Robinson. and then to stand by for the next attack." "We'll risk it. "Come on. As Mike arrived. . This time. was just in time to see Psmith." said Psmith approvingly. you chaps. and Mike." said Mike. turning after re-locking the door. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly. but it was needless. "We must act." A heavy body crashed against the door. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. stepping into the room again. the door. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. I say. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. Mike jumped to help. if you don't. swung the doorway. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study. "The preliminaries may now be considered over." said Spiller. the first shot has been fired. instead of resisting. His was a simple and appreciative mind. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. slammed the door and locked it. however. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. the captive was already on the window-sill. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe.

" Mike followed the advice. they were first out of the room." said Mike." said Psmith. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. you know. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. Well. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. Spiller. and see what happens. Spiller's face was crimson." A bell rang in the distance. "Tea. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently. "You'd better come out." he said. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in." said Mike. nip upstairs as quickly as you can. of course." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace." "Leave us. but it can't go on." "This. "No." The passage was empty when they opened the door. "we shall have to go now. "is exciting. you'll only get it hotter if you don't. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. but Psmith was in his element. Jellicoe knocked at the door." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. we will play the fixture on our own ground. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term. and have it out?" said Mike. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. I shouldn't think. leaning against the mantelpiece. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. It read: "Directly this is over." said Jellicoe. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time.Somebody hammered on the door. we would be alone. When they had been in the study a few moments. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night. "There's no harm in going out. ." "They won't do anything till after tea.

but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. _ne pas_." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter."Quite right. where Robinson also had a bed. therefore. closing the door. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. but otherwise." said Psmith. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room. they rag him. Mr. as predicted by Jellicoe. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started. We often rag half the night and nothing happens." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. As to the time when an attack might be expected. Shall we be moving?" Mr. "only he won't. retiring at ten. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether. he'll simply sit tight. that human encyclopaedia. "And touching. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. And now. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. He never hears anything. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson." said Psmith. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful. We shall be glad of his moral support. . that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous." said Jellicoe. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner. and disappeared again. "the matter of noise." said Psmith placidly. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage." "Then I think. Outwood paid his visit at eleven." said Mike. well-conducted establishment. deposed that Spiller. It was probable. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms.

but far otherwise. I have evolved the following plan of action. Mike was tired after his journey. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. "These humane preparations being concluded."How about that door?" said Mike. silence is essential. they may wait at the top of the steps. I always ask myself on these occasions. There were three steps leading down to it. Napoleon would have done that. showed that Jellicoe. Comrade Jackson. Psmith surveyed the result with approval. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. Subject to your approval. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. directly he heard the door-handle turned. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. which is close to the door. If they have no candle. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. listening. Comrade Jellicoe. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. There was a creaking sound. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. especially if." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. waiting for him. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. as on this occasion. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. If they have. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. had heard the noise." said Mike. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. and a slight giggle. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. He would then----" "I tell you what. "Dashed neat!" he said. too." said Psmith. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. . too. "we will retire to our posts and wait.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

sir. Scarcely had he gone. probably smoking and going into low public-houses. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys. sir. Archaeology is a passion with us. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket. both in manner and appearance. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. Downing vehemently. It gets him into idle. Outwood last night." Mr." Adair turned. sir. sir. I suppose I can't hinder you. sir. "Now _he's_ cross. The more new blood we have. the Archaeological Society here. with fervour." "On archaeology." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys. shaking his head. too. "Excellent." said Psmith. and walked on. we went singing about the house. I fear. I like every new boy to begin at once. "I saw Adair speaking to you." "We are. "I was not alluding to you in particular. to an excitable bullfinch.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees. I suppose you will both play. above all. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. Let's go on and see what sort . A short. But in my opinion it is foolery." "Good job. nothing else. the better. We are. I tell you I don't like it. not wandering at large about the country. eh?" It was a master. "I don't like it. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. I was referring to the principle of the thing. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance. a keen school." sighed Psmith. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff." said Psmith." "At any rate. looking after him." said Mr." "A very wild lot. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. Comrade Outwood loves us. I want every boy to be keen. When we heard that there was a society here." said Psmith." "I never loaf. We want keenness here." He stumped off. loafing habits. "If you choose to waste your time.

he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson. And now he positively ached for a game. He did not repeat the experiment. It was on a Thursday afternoon. There were times. after . There were other exponents of the game. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting. Adair. that swash-buckling pair. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. and Milton. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. Numbers do not make good cricket. "I _will_ be good. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. He was not a Burgess. the head of Outwood's. I was in the Wrykyn team three years._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. but there were some quite capable men. when the sun shone. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. and Wyatt. to begin with. Barnes. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. was a mild. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. Altogether.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. after watching behind the nets once or twice. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. What made it worse was that he saw. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. was a very good bowler indeed. It couldn't be done. The batting was not so good. mostly in Downing's house. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. Lead me to the nearest net." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. Stone and Robinson themselves. Any sort of a game. were both fair batsmen. Mike would have placed above him. and Stone was a good slow bowler. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. by the law of averages. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. in his three years' experience of the school.

even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. The day was warm. "What?" he said. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. Roman camps. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. "by the docility of our demeanour. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. "Go in after Lodge over there." "Over there" was the end net. to be absolutely accurate. let us slip away. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. He patronised fossils. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. Let us find some shady nook where a . If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. He was amiable. and was trying not to show it. Psmith approached Mike. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the he would have patronised that. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. Mike. Psmith. Mike walked away without a word. could stand it no longer. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet. "This net. He looked up. "Having inspired confidence. This is the real cricket scent. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. from increased embarrassment. for Mr. but patronising. seemed to enjoy them hugely. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere." said Adair coldly. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng. and he patronised ruins. as he sat there watching. He was embarrassed and nervous. Mr. and brood apart for awhile. and kept them by his aide. "This is the first eleven net." it may be observed." he said. was the first eleven net. Mike repeated his request. give me the pip. More abruptly this time. He went up to Adair.

it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. and began to explore the wood on the other side. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. Mike would have carried on. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action. "Thus far. they always liked him. and closed his eyes. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. "And. and sitting down. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. I rather think I'll go to sleep. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. and then. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. Comrade Jackson." Mike. jumped the brook. he got up. He was too late. above all. Their departure had passed unnoticed. At the further end there was a brook. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles." And Psmith. and began to bark vigorously at him. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable." he said. and listen to the music of the brook. this looks a likely spot. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. He came back to where the man was standing. Mike sat on for a few minutes. unless you have anything important to say. lay down. "I was just having a look round. I can tell you. In the same situation a few years before. "I played against you. and they strolled away down the hill. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. Ah. He was a short. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. Mike liked dogs. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. finding this a little dull." said Psmith. Looking back. broad young man with a fair moustache. In fact. "A fatiguing pursuit. hitching up the knees of his trousers. Mine are like some furrowed field. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. and trusted to speed to save him. and." "The dickens you--Why. Call me in about an hour." said may lie on his back for a bit. In passing. dancing in among my . offered no opposition. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. on acquaintance. We will rest here awhile. for the Free Foresters last summer. but he could not place him. "and no farther.

turning to the subject next his heart. It's just off the London road. if you want me to." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. We all start out together. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front. but I could nip back. "Any Wednesday or Saturday. I say. You made fifty-eight not out. He began to talk about himself. "I hang out down here. only cover dropped it. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground." "That's all right. "So. You're Prendergast. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason. Very keen. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is. "Only village. I'm simply dying for a game.nesting pheasants. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked. you know." "You ought to have had me second ball. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine. but no great shakes." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike. There's a sign-post where you turn off." "I'll lend you everything. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped." "I'm frightfully sorry. I'll tell you how it is. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about." "I'll give you all you want. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat." he concluded. Look here. By Jove. * * * * * ." "I'll play on a rockery. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket." And he told how matters stood with him." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies." "Thanks. you see." said Mike. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. By the way.

CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . and it grew with further acquaintance. I say. Downing. "I'm going to play cricket. sleepily. on being awakened and told the news. If you like the game. fussy. life can never be entirely grey. M. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. and Mr. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. will you? I don't want it to get about. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. punctuated at intervals by crises. Downing. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. To Mr. never an easy form-master to get on with. though he would not have admitted it. Cricket I dislike. to enjoy himself. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. Downing's special care. As time went on. don't tell a soul. Mr. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. Mr. I think I'll come and watch you." One of the most acute of these crises. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. To Mike. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. pompous." "My lips are sealed. It was. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team. for a village near here. but it was a very decent substitute. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility." * * * * * That Saturday. Jackson."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. indeed. It was not Wrykyn. employed doing "over-time. Mike began. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. Downing. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. and the most important. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there.

who. a sort of high priest. of the School House. "Well. Downing had closed the minute-book. sir?" asked Stone. These two officials were those sportive allies. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. of Outwood's house. Downing. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. had joined young and worked their way up. Downing's form-room. Wilson?" "Please. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. a tenor voice. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. with green stripes. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. short for Sampson. with a thin green stripe. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. Outwood. Under them were the rank and file. and was apparently made of india-rubber. The rest were entirely frivolous. Wilson. Stone and Robinson." . The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. To-day they were in very fair form. At its head was Mr. and a particular friend of Mike's. was the Sedleigh colour. "One moment. The proceedings always began in the same way. about thirty in all. He was a large. an engaging expression. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. sir. much in request during French lessons. under him was a captain. the tongue of an ant-eater. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. Stone. The Brigade was carefully organised. Downing pondered "Red. "Shall I put it to the vote. Sammy. sir. We will now proceed to the painful details. Downing. and under the captain a vice-captain. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. In passing.esteem of Mr. light-hearted dog with a white coat." Red. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. spirit. As soon as Mr. To show a keenness for cricket was good. He had long legs. Downing. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. held up his hand. who looked on the Brigade in the right. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. or Downing. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. Sammy was the other.

"sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. those against it to the right. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. please. sir. sir." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. sir. Wilson?" "Please. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. Downing banged on his desk. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please. Mr. sir. Downing rapped irritably on his desk. sir. sir. sit down--Wilson. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. perfectly preposterous. Mr. listen to me. The whole strength of the company: "Please. We cannot plunge into needless expense. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are." ." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. Stone. of course. get back to your place. Well." "Please. and the meeting had divided. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads." "Please. sir-r-r!" "But. "I don't think my people would be pleased." said Stone. the danger!" "Please. of course. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive. sir. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. sir. "Sit down!" he said. sir." A scuffling of feet. "Silence!" "Then." said Robinson. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard. out of the question. Stone. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man.

I think. Downing smiled a wry smile. "do me one hundred lines." "What _sort_ of noise. Mr. The muffled cries grew more distinct." as he reached the door. sir-r-r. "May I fetch a book from my desk. sir?" said a voice "off. Downing. as many Wrykynians . mingled with cries half-suppressed. sir? No. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. I'm not making a whining noise. "Our Wilson is facetious. He was not alone. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr." said Robinson. there must be less of this flippancy. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. we are busy. leave the room!" "Sir. "Sir. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. Those near enough to see. "A bird." was cut off by the closing door. "I think it's something outside the window. sir?" asked Mike. I want you boys above all to be keen. sir!" "This moment. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice. And.Mr." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr. sir. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise." he said. "Very well--be quick. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. sir. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. Wilson. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in." said Stone helpfully. Downing. sir?" asked Mike. Wilson!" "Yes. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. _please_. sir. Downing. Jackson. no. "Noise. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. puzzled. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. "It's outside the door. We must have keenness." he remarked frostily. sir?" inquired Mike." A pained "OO-oo-oo.

Downing. threats. "I do not propose. you will be severely punished. The banging on Mr. among the ruins barking triumphantly. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. like Marius. the same! Go to your seat. Downing shot out orders." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. Downing acidly. sir. It was a stirring. "Perhaps that's it. Chaos reigned. Jackson and Wilson. remain. "They do sometimes." "They are mowing the cricket field. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this.had asked before him. sit down! Donovan. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. Come in. sir. go quietly from the room. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. each in the manner that seemed proper to him." "Yes. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. "A rat!" shouted Robinson. sir. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation." added Robinson. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. What are you doing. _Quietly_. "Stone. "to imitate the noise. sir?" bellowed the unseen one. It is a curious whining noise." said the invisible Wilson. rising from his place. Henderson." put in Stone. others flung books." Crash! . "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. Mr. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way." said Mr. Mr. all shouted. Downing's desk resembled thunder. and was now standing. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. all of you. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. I said. if you do not sit down." "Or somebody's boots. Vincent. Some leaped on to forms. bustling scene. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away.

Mr. Go quietly from the room. "Well. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. and paid very little for it." And Mr." "I tried to collar him. Jackson. Jackson. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines." It was plain to Mr. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. Mike the dog. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him." said Mike. so he came in. Downing walked out of the room. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. and had refused to play cricket. sir. Wilson?" "Please. I fear. and he came in after the rat. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. so I came in----" "And by a fluke. I had to let him go. sir. That will do. "Jackson and Wilson. but nevertheless a member. it was true. Mr. too." he said. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. Wilson had supplied the rat. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. "One hundred lines. Jackson. sir. Also he kept wicket for the school. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. Downing turned to Mike. We are a keen school. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. as one who tells of strange things." The meeting dispersed. everybody. frivolous at times. come here."Wolferstan. Wilson. "You may go. but Mr." said Wilson. but when you told me to come in. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade.

Mike's heart warmed to them. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. He was in warlike mood.They say misfortunes never come singly. "I say. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. and welcomed the intrusion." said Mike. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow." said Robinson. sorry. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. contemporary with Julius Caesar.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. so don't be shy about paying it back. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. and got up. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. as a matter of fact. I'm in a beastly hole. it may be stated at once. and. "You're a sportsman. by return of post. the return match. forgotten. he did. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. There was. without preamble." "Oh. he would be practically penniless for weeks. done with. Mike put down his pen. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. I do happen to have a quid. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . Jellicoe came into the room. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. He felt that he. after the Sammy incident. Robinson was laughing. The fact is. You can freeze on to it. "As a matter of fact. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. Robinson on the table. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. if you like. (Which. Stone beamed. they should have it. They sat down. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. asked for the loan of a sovereign. But it's about all I have got.

public school. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. They were useful at cricket. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here." ." said Mike. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them. As to the kind of adventure. He got a hundred lines. As for Mike. and a vast store of animal spirits. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. above all. he now found them pleasant company." said Stone." "Don't you!" said Mike. Masters were rather afraid of them. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings. They go about. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. small and large. They had a certain amount of muscle.'" quoted Stone. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. you could get into some sort of a team. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community." "'We are. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread. "Well. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. "Were you sacked?" "No. a keen school. "Those Fire Brigade meetings. loud and boisterous. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. and began to get out the tea-things. Winifred's" brand. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. They were absolutely free from brain." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. If you know one end of a bat from the other. You can do what you like. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. My pater took me away. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished. and you never get more than a hundred lines. "I got Saturday afternoon. and then they usually sober down. "are a rag. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement.

"Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running. I say. W. Stone broke the silence. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. "I've got an idea. if I'd stopped on. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove. and knock the cover off him. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is." agreed Robinson. I play for a village near here. and I should have been captain this year."Wrykyn?" said Robinson." "Think of the rag. I was in the team three years. Stone gaped. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. My word. but they always have it in the fourth week. and the others?" "Brother." "Masters don't play in house matches. "Why. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day." "What!" "Well. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten." said Stone. You don't get ordered about by Adair. do play. You _must_ play. look here." "Adair sticks on side. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler. We're playing Downing's. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J." ." said Mike. There are always house matches. surely?" "This isn't a real house match." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village." said Stone. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. yes. "Enough for six. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. for a start. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. "By Jove. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. "I did. Place called Little Borlock. I say. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. "Why. Only a friendly." said Robinson.

Jackson. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. It was so in Mike's case. Downing assumed it. JACKSON." They dashed out of the room." said Mike."But the team's full. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. Barnes appeared. "Are you the M. THEN. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket." "Yes. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. Most leap at the opportunity. and when. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert. quite unexpectedly. but to Mr. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. and a murmur of excited conversation. Then footsteps returning down the passage. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. "Thanks awfully. He studied his _Wisden_. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. . "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. Mr. and make him alter it." he said. I mean. Mike was not a genuine convert. on his face the look of one who has seen visions. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one." he said. I was in the team. "I say. "The list isn't up yet." said Mike. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. then. Downing he had the outward aspect of one. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. "I say. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M.

We are essentially versatile. Drones are not welcomed by us. * * * * * Barnes." "Indeed. above all. sir. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. sir. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. Adair. sir. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. with a kind of mild surprise. in the way he took . In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type. as captain of cricket." said Psmith earnestly. Mike saw. 2 manner--the playful. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. Downing. Your enthusiasm has bounds. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness. contrives to get an innings in a game. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. I notice. Downing's No. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. except for the creases." "In our house. It is the right spirit. had naturally selected the best for his own match.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. "I like to see it. Jackson. the archaeologist of yesterday. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. Smith? You are not playing yourself. "We are. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. Mike. It was a good wicket. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. With Mike it was different. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. competition is fierce. where the nervous new boy. who was with Mike. "a keen house. becomes the cricketer of to-day." he said. "What!" he cried. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. working really hard. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. on the cricket field. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. timidly jubilant. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good.

six dangerous balls beautifully played. slow. failed to stop it. Mr. He had got a sight of the ball now. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. in his stand at the wickets. A half-volley this time. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. they were disappointed. The ball. and ended with a combination of step and jump. He took two short steps. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. and mid-on. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. as the ball came . Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. "Get to them. and he knew that he was good. Downing irritably. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. but it stopped as Mr. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. and dashed up against the rails. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. Mike went out at it. but the programme was subject to alterations. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. Downing's slows. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad.guard. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. Mike started cautiously. Mike took guard. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. when delivered. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. The first over was a maiden. was billed to break from leg. This time the hope was fulfilled. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. as several of the other games had not yet begun. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. took three more short steps. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. Jenkins. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. two long steps." said Mr. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. and off the wicket on the on-side. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. and. Mike slammed it back. gave a jump. The ball was well up. The fieldsmen changed over.

Downing bowled one more over. By the time the over was finished. Jenkins. Downing would pitch his next ball short. where." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. Adair came up. and then retired moodily to cover-point. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. there was a strong probability that Mr. The third ball was a slow long-hop. sat on the splice like a limpet. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. by three wides. and bowling well. and the total of his side. and. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. Mr. uttered with painful distinctness the words. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. in Adair's fifth over. Scared by this escape. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. Then he looked up. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. This happened now with Mr. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. and Mike. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match.back from the boundary. . "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. in addition. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known." "Sir. Downing. if you can manage it. offering no more chances. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. please. "Get to them. it is usually as well to be batting. without the slightest success. one is inclined to be abrupt. The expected happened. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. And a shrill small voice. Mike had then made a hundred and three. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. waited in position for number four.

"Great Scott. I suppose?" "Not a bit. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. am I?" said Mike. Barnes's remark that he supposed. but also--which was rather unfair--his house. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. having got Downing's up a tree. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. politely. Three years. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity." Adair was silent for a moment. "Declare!" said Robinson. "Above it." said Stone. Of all masters." "They'll be rather sick if we don't." There was a silence. As a matter of fact. and the school noticed it. Mr." There was another pause. Not up to it. "Sick! I should think they would. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. "That's just the gay idea. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. "I'm not keeping you. too. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. The result was that not only he himself. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. "I never saw such a chump. I said I wasn't going to play here. thanks. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals. won't they?" suggested Barnes. Downing. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. "No."I didn't say anything of the kind. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster. was met with a storm of opposition. There's a difference.

going in first early in the morning. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . if I can get it. or when one is out without one's gun. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully. The first-change pair are poor." said Robinson." "Well. and that is what happened now. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short. tried their luck. mercifully. after a full day's play. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. Mr." said Barnes unhappily. Games had frequently been one-sided. These are the things which mark epochs. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. In no previous Sedleigh match. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot.can. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. and Mike. Nor will Robinson. the small change. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6. passing in the road. I swear I won't field." said Stone with a wide grin. greatly daring. in one of which a horse." "So do I. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. I won't then." "Rather not. "If you declare. proceeded to get to business once more. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. Downing took a couple more overs. Barnes. amidst applause. Besides. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. it was assumed by the field. Bowlers came and went. Time. "Only you know they're rather sick already. and Stone came out.15. playing himself in again. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives." "Don't you worry about that. was bowling really well. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. each weirder and more futile than the last. But still the first-wicket stand continued. fortified by food and rest. At four o'clock. Adair. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. Play was resumed at 2. And the rest.30." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. that directly he had topped his second century. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper.

." "He's very touchy. Hammond. Downing... The game has become a farce. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience.. "Capital.. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_. Mike's pace had become slower.... P.... The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad." snapped Mr. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force. He had an unorthodox style..) A grey dismay settled on the field.." Mr. 33 M. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room. but an excellent eye." "Declare! Sir. 277 W.. just above the mantelpiece. J.." "It is perfect foolery.. "I think Barnes must have left the field. a slip of paper... Lobs were being tried.way. _b_." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion.. But the next ball was bowled.... and still Barnes made no sign.." said Stone. not out. DOWNING'S _Outwood's... nearly weeping with pure joy.... Stone... _c_.. as a matter of fact. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was... "This is foolery... Barnes. sir. and the next after that.. And now let's start _our_ innings. Downing walked moodily to his place." "This is absurd. "Barnes!" "Please. as who should say. as was only natural. sir. Hassall.... not out. First innings. Jackson. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him. and the next over. sir... too." "Absurd. was mounting steadily. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something. 124 . and Stone.." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl. we can't unless Barnes does.. There was no reply. capital. a week later. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type. "Barnes!" he called. there was on view. as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain...._ J.. but his score. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's. You must declare your innings closed.

You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out. leaning against the mantelpiece. You will probably get sacked. Comrade Jellicoe and... I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket.. slipping his little hand in mine.." murmured Mike. One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects." he said. here and there. On the other hand. felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week. if he had cared to take the part....Extras." "I don't care... and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day. and Mike. for three quid. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little. not to mention three wides. from what I have seen of our bright little friend. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated. Twenty-eight off one over. But your performance was cruelty to animals.. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open. he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you.. in a small way... "In theory.. 37 ----Total (for one wicket). "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel." . as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair. is.... I suppose. "In an ordinary way." "He doesn't deserve to.... I should say that. Psmith. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries. CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night. Downing.. Mike. touched me This interested Mike. But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue." said he.. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind. In fact. 471 Downing's did not bat. would have made Job foam at the mouth.. it's worth it. shifting his aching limbs in the chair. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe.. could have been the Petted Hero... "the the place was crept to my side.. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler.... discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr..... fagged as he was. When all ringing with song and merriment.." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again.

and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card. he'll pay me back a bit. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. clinking sovereigns. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. I'm stiff all over." Silence again. Jackson!" he said. He uttered no word for quite three minutes. Well. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood." * * * * * a log. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind. and then dropped gently off." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. but he could not sleep. wrapped in gloom. I can't get to sleep. "Are you asleep. as the best substitute for sleep. It was done on the correspondence system. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. the various points of his innings that day. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. Psmith chatted for general. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe." "Nor can I. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. who appeared to be to the conversation. I hope. He felt very hot and uncomfortable. nothing. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh." There was a creaking. when he's collected enough for his needs. He wanted four. "I say. . I'm pretty well cleaned out. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. "Yes?" "Have you--oh.

flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. Why?" "Oh." "Hullo?" "I say. I suppose. My sister would be jolly sick." Mike dozed off again." "Yes. I don't know. and you'd drive up to the house. "Hullo?" he said. After being sacked. or to Australia. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked. and all that. and then you'd have to hang about." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. My mater would be sick. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . I meant. So would mine. as it were. Have you got any sisters. in order to give verisimilitude. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. But if you were. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. you know. Then he spoke again." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. and you'd go in. and wait. and presently you'd hear them come in. He was not really listening. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. "My pater would be frightfully sick. They might all be out. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon. "Nobody. or something. Especially my pater. I expect. Jackson? I say. too."Jackson. and you'd go out into the passage. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. And then you'd be sent into a bank. and the servant would open the door." The bed creaked." "Happen when?" "When you got home." "Everybody's would.

sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding."Me--Jellicoe." "Any what?" "Sisters. Except on the cricket field. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. already looking about him for further loans. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. He changed the subject. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure." said Jellicoe eagerly. I asked if you'd got any." Mike pondered. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. though people whom he liked . and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. of other members of English public schools. he was just ordinary. You'll wake Smith. He was as obstinate as a mule. He had some virtues and a good many defects. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody. look out. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. But it's jolly serious. where he was a natural genius." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes. He resembled ninety per cent." "Whose sisters?" "Yours. "Do _what_?" "I say. This thing was too much. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say." "Any _what_?" "Sisters." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. do you?" "What!" cried Mike. "I say. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. Was it a hobby. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before.

And when he set himself to do this. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. Downing and his house realised this. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. And Mr. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. Finally. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. one good quality without any defect to balance it. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. To begin with. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. in his childhood. Young blood had been shed overnight. till Psmith. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. he had never felt stiffer in his life. stood in a class by itself. but. That would probably be unpleasant. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. there was the interview with Mr. The thought depressed him. He was always ready to help people. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat. He was rigidly truthful. It was a wrench. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. which had arrived that evening. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. As Psmith had said. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. Where it was a case of saving a friend. Bob's postal order. Downing to come. where the issue concerned only himself. Downing was a curious man in many ways. The great match had not been an ordinary match. who had a sensitive ear. In addition to this. He had. Mr. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag.could do as they pleased with him. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. he was in detention. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. it had to be done. He was good-natured as a general thing. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. . and had. however. which made the matter worse. Yesterday's performance. Mr. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. in addition. It was a particularly fine day.

Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. It would be too commonplace altogether. since the glorious day when Dunster. in the excitement of this side-issue. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. he was perfectly right. You must act a lie. And. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. Downing laughed bitterly. more elusive. sir. That is to say. the speaker lost his inspiration. you must conceal your capabilities. As events turned out. When a master has got his knife into a boy. "You are surrounded. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. Downing." "Well. in their experience of the orator. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. that prince of raggers. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. the skipper." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. no. when he has trouble with the crew. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . sir. at sea. So Mr. Which Mike. By the time he had reached his peroration. Mike. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's. For sarcasm to be effective. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. Far too commonplace!" Mr. Just as." "Please. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. I have spoken of this before. works it off on the boy. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. Mr. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. did with much success. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. No. "No. which was as a suit of mail against satire. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers. Macpherson. he began in a sarcastic strain. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir. Downing came down from the heights with a run. that would not be dramatic enough for you." concluded Mr. of necessity. sir. the user of it must be met half-way.Mr. who happened to have prepared the first half-page.

But I did yell. "slamming about like that." said Mike. To their left. "or I'd have helped you over." "It's swelling up rather. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked the pitch. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude." "Awfully sorry. The bright-blazered youth walked up. Dunster. Mike had strolled out by himself. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. puts his hands over his skull. crouches down and trusts to luck. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. "Awfully sorry. . As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. zeal outrunning discretion." said Mike. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. Jellicoe hopping. "Silly ass. and rather embarrassingly grateful. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground." he groaned. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon. uttering sharp howls whenever. is not a little confusing. on hearing the shout. you know. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. Jellicoe was cheerful. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. man. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. "I shall have to be going in. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion." "I'll give you a hand. he prodded himself too energetically. The average person. as they crossed the field. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs." said Dunster. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. a long youth.

"He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. Mike. Is anything irritating you?" he added. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to. "were at a private school together." said Psmith. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. "because Jellicoe wants to see you. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it. "More. "Return of the exile. man. Well hit. Hullo! another man out. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. Before he got there he heard his name called. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world. as he walked to the cricket field. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. Dunster gave dawg.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever. Comrade Jackson. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster." said Dunster. Restore your tissues." said Psmith. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. the darling of the crew. The fifth ball bowled a man. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest. and when you have finished those. Have a cherry?--take one or two." said Dunster." "Old Smith and I. Mike made his way towards the pavilion. apply again. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village. I notice. "more. fondling the beginnings of his moustache. felt very much behind the times." "I heard about yesterday. "You needn't be a funny ass. and turning." said the animal delineator. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling." stirring sight when we met." "Alas. pained. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of." ." said Dunster." sighed Psmith. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's. faithful below he did his duty. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. I'd no idea I should find him here.

Hamlet had got it. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room." said Jellicoe gloomily. "I hadn't heard. he felt disinclined for exertion. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe. "I say." said Psmith." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster. man." said Psmith. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. Personally. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe.C. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted." "Don't dream of moving. it'll keep till tea-time. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory.C. the sun was in my eyes. at last."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball." said Psmith to Mike. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M." "I shall count the minutes. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience. but probably only after years of patient practice. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. do you?" he said. "I mean. "Oh! chuck it. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again." "Has he?" said Psmith. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now. not so much physical as mental. I shall get sacked." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. Mike stretched himself. "it's too late. Soliloquy is a knack." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" . I suppose. I like to feel that I am doing good. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse. I need some one to listen when I talk. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. where he found the injured one in a parlous state.

I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. it's frightfully decent of you." said Mike." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell." "He's the chap I owe the money to. look here. "I say. it's as easy as anything." "Yes." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day. has its comic man. He was a large. with a red and cheerful face. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up." said Jellicoe miserably."It's about that money. so I couldn't move. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here. only I got crocked. who looked ." "What absolute rot!" "But. do you think you could. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked. "it can't be helped. called Lower Borlock. "I'm awfully sorry." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol. Every village team. stout man." Jellicoe sat up. Barley filled the post. "Oh. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon. he was the wag of the village team." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. are you certain----" "I shall be all right. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes." "It doesn't matter. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'." "I say. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. hang it!" he said." "I say. for some mysterious reason. I'll get out of the house after lights-out. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag. it can.

" The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion. "if I can get into the shed. another. chuck it!" said Mike. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . there was nothing strange in Mr. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business. I won't tell him." he said." "All right. but I had a key made to fit it last summer. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs. five pounds is a large sum of money. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it. Besides. Probably in business hours After all. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time. I think. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it. "it's locked up at night. "I shall bike there. "You can manage that. which was unfortunate. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. but it did not occur to him to ask." said Jellicoe. and if Jellicoe owed it. I----" "Oh. He took the envelope containing the money without question." "I'll get it from him. and be full of the milk he was quite different." "I say.

Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. Jackson. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. Mr. The advantage an inn has over a private house. being wishful to get the job done without delay. also. I've given you the main idea of the thing. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. Still. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. sir?" said the boots. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. there you are. Mike did not want to be expelled. "Yes. until he came to the inn. However. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. of course. by the cricket field. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. with whom early rising was not a hobby. The place was shut. Probably he would have volunteered to come. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair." said Psmith.expulsion. Mike would have been glad of a companion. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. communicating with the boots' room. too. "Why. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. for many reasons. which for the time being has slipped my memory. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. "I forget which. Psmith had yielded up the key. . which. Jackson was easy-going with his family. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. 'ullo! Mr. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. "One of the Georges.

I've got some money to give to him. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. Barley. who was waiting patiently by. Jackson. Jackson." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said. the five pounds." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. Barley opened the letter. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. and had another attack. Mr. thankful. and requested him to read it. Jack. if it's _that_--" said the boots. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike. "Dear." Mr. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. hoping for light. of course." "Oh. "You can pop off. "Well. and wiped his eyes. perhaps. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind." "I must see him. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep." "The five--" Mr."I want to see Mr. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. "What's up?" he asked. which creaked under him. but rather for a solemn. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. Then he collapsed into a chair. . and now he felt particularly fogged. read it. "Oh dear!" he said. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. Barley. dear!" chuckled Mr. Jack. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. Mr. It was an occasion for rejoicing.

since. and the damage'll be five pounds. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. Love us!" Mr. Mike. is another matter altogether. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. Mike was . the affair of old Tom Raxley. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. Barley slapped his thigh. and as sharp as mustard. Mischief! I believe you. in fact. Mr. Barley's sense of humour. "DEAR MR. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. always up to it." There was some more to the same effect. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. but. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. Jellicoe. It would have been cruel to damp the man. 'I'll have a game with Mr. finishing this curious document. The other day. I hope it is in time. So I says to myself. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase." it ran. which I could not get before. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. and rode off on his return journey. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. BARLEY. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. Barley slapped his leg. about 'ar parse five. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. Jellicoe over this. but to be placed in a dangerous position. last Wednesday it were. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. Mr. "he took it all in. simply in order to satisfy Mr. Aberdeen terriers. So Mike laughed perfunctorily." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. "Why." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike.--"I send the £5. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. took back the envelope with the five pounds.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. Jane--she's the worst of the two. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. they are. it was signed "T. G.

As he did so. Sergeant Collard . he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. his foot touched something on the floor. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. nearest to Mr. With this knowledge. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. and as he wheeled his machine in. and locked the door. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. It was pitch-dark in the shed. find this out for himself. and gone to bed. and through the study window. This he accomplished with success. that the voice had come. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. On the first day of term. Downing's house. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. and. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. as Mike came to the ground. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. The suddenness. It was from the right-hand gate. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. went out. There were two gates to Mr. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. of which the house was the centre. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. after which he ran across to Outwood's. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. carried on up the water-pipe. Mike felt easier in his mind. Without waiting to discover what this might be. and running. Outwood's front garden. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. his pursuer again gave tongue. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe.

The pursuer had given the thing up. if that was out of the question. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. Meanwhile. this was certainly the next best thing. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. His programme now was simple. The other appeared startled. Having arrived there. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. at Wrykyn. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. turned aside. . with the sergeant panting in his wake. He ran on. His first impression. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. as Mike. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. looking out on to the cricket field. but he could not run. he supposed--on the school clock. turned into the road that led to the school. A sound of panting was borne to him. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. this time at a walk. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. He would wait till a quarter past. He left his cover. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. They passed the gate and went on down the road. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. Then he would trot softly back. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. Focussing his gaze. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood.was a man of many fine qualities. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. disappeared as the runner. that he had been seen and followed. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. and so to bed. "Is that you. passing through the gate. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. taking things easily. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. but. instead of making for the pavilion. He would have liked to be in bed. Then the sound of footsteps returning." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). His thoughts were miles away. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. but Time. increasing his girth. Like Mike. he sat on the steps. shoot up the water-pipe once more. he was evidently possessed of a key. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion.

half a cocoa-nut. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. that Mike. conveyed to him by Adair. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. and washing the lot down with tea. So long. was now standing at his front gate. He would be safe now in trying for home again. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. After a moment's pause. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. Adair?" The next moment Mr. It came about. He had despatched Adair for the doctor." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. He walked in that direction. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. He was off like an . Adair rode off. One of the chaps in our house is bad. with a cry of "Is that you. The school clock struck the quarter. that MacPhee. "I'm going for the doctor. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. Now it happened that Mr. and Mr. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. Downing. All that was wrong with MacPhee. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. as a matter of fact." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. But Mr. an apple. three doughnuts. and. Downing emerged from his gate. was disturbed in his mind. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. waiting for Adair's return."What are you doing out here. was a very fair stomach-ache. therefore. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. at a range of about two yards. Jackson?" "What are you. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. two ices. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions." Mike turned away. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. whistling between his teeth. and a pound of cherries. aroused from his first sleep by the news.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

He did not want to smile. The headmaster. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. Mr. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. whoever he was. he wanted revenge. who. deeply interested. "He--he--_what_. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. you say?" "Very big." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. He had a cold in the head. He received the housemaster frostily. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. Mr." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. on the other hand. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. did want to smile. no. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. A big boy. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. It was not his ." Mr. he went straight to the headmaster.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. "Dear me!" he said. was not in the best of tempers. you think?" "I am certain of it. Downing. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. escaped and rushed into the road." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises." said Mr. only. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. instead of running about the road. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. The Head. "One of the boys at the school. taking advantage of the door being open. and also a rooted conviction that Mr." "No. Downing. in spite of his strict orders. I suppose not.

Mr. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. if he wanted the criminal discovered. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start.. had seen. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. the rest was comparatively easy. broke into a wild screech of laughter. gave him a most magnificent start. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. Outwood who helped him." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. as far as I understand. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. not to mention cromlechs. unidentified. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. Downing. Downing was left with the conviction that. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. and passed it on to Mr. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. Downing. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. but without result." Mr. Outwood. "Not actually in. who. It was only . thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. Downing was not listening. Downing as they walked back to lunch. It was Mr. I think. at the time." "Impossible. Oh yes. Downing. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. and Fate. and Mr." Which he did. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. of Outwood's. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. he would have to discover him for himself. with the exception of Johnson III. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. Downing. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely.

"Oo-oo-oo. yer young monkey. ejecting the family." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. as a blind man could have told. in order to ensure privacy. I am. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard. sir. Downing arrived. yer. Downing. sir. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself.' he used to say. which the latter was about to do unasked. but it finishes in time. "I did. Mr. he used to say. Having requested his host to smoke. sir. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. "Did you catch sight of his face.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. "tells me that last night. sir--spotted 'im. I did." he said. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort. and I doubles after 'im prompt. Dook of Connaught. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence. sergeant?" "No. sir. Downing stated his case." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. Outwood. found himself at liberty. sir." he said. "Mr. Oo-oo-oo. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run. In due course Mr. sir. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. he rushed forth on the trail. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping." admitted the sergeant reluctantly. sergeant. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'." "Ah!" . 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. Dinner was just over when Mr. Feeflee good at spottin'. Regardless of the claims of digestion.

'cos yer see. . sergeant.C." And Mr. "It was undoubtedly the same boy. sir." he said. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. I'm feeflee good at spottin'." Mr. sergeant. Downing rose to go. sir. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. the result of luck. success in the province of detective work must always be." "Pray do not move. sir. sir. while Sergeant Collard. Good afternoon." "I hope not. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. to a very large extent. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them." "Good-afternoon to you. "Well. "I will find my way out. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses. put a handkerchief over his face. and slept the sleep of the just. on Wednesday. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. sergeant. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face." "So do I.C. sir. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. and dusted. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. Very hot to-day. with a label attached. if he persisted in making so much noise." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash."Bare-'eaded. Outwood's house. having requested Mrs. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him. rested his feet on the table. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once." added the sergeant. "Good-afternoon. but it was a dark night. The school plays the M. is it not?" "Feeflee warm. rubbing the point in. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. and exhibited clearly." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully.

There were. and his methods. now that he had started to handle his own first case. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. Mr. requested that way peculiar to some boys. We should simply have hung around." the boy does not reply. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. when Fate once more intervened. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. just as the downtrodden medico did. how--?" and all the rest of it. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. Probably. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. to detect anybody. but. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. Mr. As he brooded over the case in hand. if he only knew. Outwood's house. What he wanted was a clue. It certainly was uncommonly hard. we should have been just as dull ourselves. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. having capped Mr. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. If you go to a boy and say. unless you knew who had really done the crime. he thought. as a matter of fact. there were clues lying all over the place. it would have complicated matters. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. but. saying: "My dear Holmes. only a limited number of boys in Mr. this time in the shape of Riglett. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. and leaves the next move to you. "Sir. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. but even if there had been only one other. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. even and. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. his sympathy for Dr. It is practically Stalemate. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. tight-lipped smiles. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. shouting to him to pick them up. Watson increased with every minute. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. of course. But if ever the emergency does arise.The average man is a Doctor Watson. All these things passed through Mr. a junior member of his house. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source.

and made his way to the shed. Downing saw it. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. A foot-mark. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. then on his right. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. stood first on his left foot. Downing. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. Riglett. Downing. The air was full of the pungent scent. Yoicks! There were two things. extracted his bicycle from the rack. walking delicately through dry places. now coughed plaintively. to be considered. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. Mr." he said. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. Watson a fair start. In the first place. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards.bicycle from the shed. he saw the clue. Paint. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. Your careful detective must consider everything. Mr. and he is a demon at the game. Mr. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. Downing unlocked the door. The sound recalled Mr. Then Mr. but just a mess. "Pah!" said Mr. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. and finally remarked. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . Give Dr. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. Downing to mundane matters. "and be careful where you tread. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. blushed. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. however. He felt for his bunch of keys. It was the ground-man's paint. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. A foot-mark! No less. leaving Mr. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field. Downing. Then suddenly. What he saw at first was not a Clue. And this was a particularly messy mess. Watson could not have overlooked." Riglett. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. Much thinking had made him irritable. Downing remembered. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. "Get your bicycle. beneath the disguise of the mess. Red paint.

he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. sir. sir.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. Oh. sir. "Oh. Quite so. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. "No. Thank you. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. This was the more probable of the two contingencies." "It is spilt all over the floor. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. but I could show you in a second. There are three in a row. I shall be able to find them. Things were moving. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. I didn't go into the shed at all. on returning to the house." he said.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. He could get the ground-man's address from him. Adair. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. I suppose. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. that there was paint on his boots. You did not do that. Adair. on the right as you turn out into the road. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. His book had been interesting. by the way. Adair. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. His is the first you come to. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No." "Thank you." "I see. There's a barn just before you get to them. and the ground-man came out in . He rapped at the door of the first. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. don't get up.

so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned." "Of course. An excellent idea. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes.his shirt-sleeves. sir? No. sir. Outwood's house somewhere. It was Sunday. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. Quite so. too. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. "Oh. and denounce him to the headmaster. thank you. Just as I thought. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. Tell me. Makes it look shabby. He was hot on the scent now. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. sir?" "No. blinking as if he had just woke up. Markby. It wanted a lick of paint bad. Markby. sir. On the shelf at the far end. The thing had become simple to a degree. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. ascertain its owner. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. Regardless of the heat. All he had to do was to go to Mr. sir. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. Markby. yes. Thank you. The fact is. You had better get some more to-morrow. Picture." "On the floor?" "On the floor. That is all I wished to know. with the result that it has been kicked over. as was indeed the case. no. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot." "Do you want it. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. sir." "Just so. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. and spilt. thank you." Mr.

as he passed." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. Smith. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything. Downing. sir. What brings him round in this direction. "I was an ass ever to try it. sir. and said nothing." snapped Mr. sir?" "Do as I tell you. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. I wonder! Still." said he. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound. He is welcome to them. "Or shall I fetch Mr. and Psmith. found Mr. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on. "Enough of this spoolery. who had just entered the house. Outwood. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time." "With acute pleasure. I will be with you in about two ticks. so he merely inclined his head gracefully." Mike walked on towards the field. "A warm afternoon. "What the dickens. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself." said Mike disparagingly. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories. . strolling upstairs to fetch his novel. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are." "'Tis well.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith." murmured Psmith courteously." said Mike. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room. Downing arrived. "There's a kid in France. no matter. That is to say. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground." said Psmith.

sir. baffled. Downing with asperity. "I think he's out in the field. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity." Mr. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. sir. "Show me the next dormitory. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr.Psmith said no more. An idea struck the master. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master." They moved on up the passage." said Psmith." Mr. Downing paused. sir. Smith. Each boy. Downing rose." "I was only wondering. Downing nodded. Smith. "Shall I lead the way. "Is this impertinence studied. "Here. Mr. Here we have----" Mr. opening a door." he said. "we have Barnes' dormitory. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. "Are you looking for Barnes. "to keep your remarks to yourself. An airy room." said Psmith. "The studies. Mr. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles. Downing looked at him closely. Smith?" "Ferguson's study." he cried. . but went down to the matron's room. The master snorted suspiciously." said Mr. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. Mr. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough." said Psmith. having examined the last bed. crimson in the face with the exercise. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. panting slightly. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. sir. sir? No. I understand. The observation escaped me unawares. "Excuse me. The matron being out. sir?" he asked. Psmith waited patiently by. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. This is Barnes'. That's further down the passage. sir. Smith. "Aha!" said Psmith. "This. then moved on. Downing stopped short. "I beg your pardon. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. It is Mr.

" "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. Smith." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes. even in the dusk." "Ah! Thank you. "This. Downing pondered. sir. The cricketer." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. Downing raked the room with a keen eye. sir. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. Smith?" "Jackson. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze." "Never mind about his cricket." Mr. Downing with irritation. is it not. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window." said Psmith. putting up his eyeglass. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment. sir. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar." said Mr. sir. "The trees. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. No. And. that Mr. "No. they go out extremely quickly. sir. "Have you no bars to your windows here. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy." Mr. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. rapping a door. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr." "Not at all. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. "A lovely view." "I think. is mine and Jackson's. sir."Whose is this?" he asked. the distant hills----" Mr. sir. Downing suddenly started. sir?" said Psmith. sir. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. the field. Smith.

It was a fine performance. he would have achieved his object. Psmith leaned against the wall. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. "I should say at a venture. Downing." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself. But that there was something. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded. Mr. and bent once more to his task. he rushed straight on. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up. Edmund. sir. sir? He has them on. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. Mr." Mr." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. Smith?" "Not one. If he had been wise. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. by a devious and snaky route. Boots flew about the room. and straightened out the damaged garment. collects them. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. our genial knife-and-boot boy. sir. prompting these manoeuvres. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. or it might mean that he had been out all the time. As it was." Mr. "We have here. he was certain." said Psmith affably." said Mr." he said. "a fair selection of our various bootings. sir. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. trembling with excitement. his life. Downing stooped eagerly over it. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. Downing then. and dumped is down on the study floor. at early dawn. "His boots. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. that they would be in the basket downstairs. "Smith!" he said excitedly. I noticed them as he went out just now. "On the spot. Downing looked up." "Smith. I believe. "go and bring that basket to me here. he did not know." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. Downing knelt on the floor beside . sir. Such a moment came to Mr. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. Psmith had noticed.

of course. understood what before had puzzled him. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. Bridgnorth. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot. began to pick up the scattered footgear." he said." he said. "Yes. You can carry it back when you return. Downing. boot-maker. when Mr. ." "Come with me." as he did so. sir?" "Certainly not. sir. of course. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. The ex-Etonian. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. "I think it would be best. and when. and. sir. then. sir?" Mr. I shall take this with me. After a moment Psmith followed him. "Indeed?" he said. Downing left the room. "Ah. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. Thither Mr. Smith. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night." Mr. He knew nothing. "Put those back again. "That's the lot. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. Leave the basket here." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. might be a trifle undignified. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. Psmith looked at it again. with an exclamation of triumph. rising. In his hand he held a boot. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. It was "Brown. Smith. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance." "Shall I put back that boot. The headmaster was in his garden. rose to his feet.the basket. "No. on the following day. Downing made his way. and doing so. At last he made a dive." he said. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake. Downing had finished." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. carrying a dirty boot. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. Psmith took the boot. one puts two and two together." "Shall I carry it. Downing reflected.

you say. "who was remarkably subject----" .. I fancy. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. Downing. Mr. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. I brought it on purpose to show to you. sir. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest." "This is foolery.." he said vehemently. "now let me so.. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. But. These momentary optical delusions are. "There was paint on this boot. I saw it with my own eyes. red or otherwise. Smith will bear me out in this. not uncommon. "You must have made a mistake. the cynosure of all eyes. fixed stare. it was absolutely and entirely innocent. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No." said the headmaster. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. Of any suspicion of paint. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. There was no paint on this boot. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care. Mr. this boot with exactly where Mr. Mr. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. Downing. putting up his eyeglass. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. Psmith. sir. It was a broad splash right across the toe. Just. Smith. putting on a pair of look at--This. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. Just Mr." The headmaster interposed. er. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. Downing was the first to break the silence. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction." said Psmith chattily."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. is the--? Just so.

It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed." said Mr. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness. sir?" . Downing. with simple dignity." "Really. sir?" said Psmith. Smith?" "Did I speak. Downing looked searchingly at him. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own. "Well. Mr. I remember thinking myself. if I may----?" "Certainly. had not time to fade. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. sir. really. "You had better be careful." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. Shall I take the boot with me. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot." murmured Psmith. Mr."It is absurd. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house." "I am reading it." said the headmaster. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. The afternoon sun. I can assure you that it does not brush off. "My theory. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint. sir. Downing." "A sort of chameleon boot. "for pleasure. Downing." "It is undoubtedly black now. "What did you say." said the headmaster. is that Mr. sir. If Mr. The goaded housemaster turned on him." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this." "Yes. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance. "May I go now. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes." "Exactly." said Psmith. The picture on the retina of the eye. Downing recollects." "You are very right. consequently. "that is surely improbable." said Psmith with benevolent approval. at the moment. he did not look long at the boot. Downing shortly. "My theory. Smith. I cannot have been mistaken. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. Smith. streaming in through the window. sir. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. Mr. sir. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts." said Psmith. Smith.

He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. he. laid down his novel. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. however. "Brain. Smith." he said. and the latter. and lock the cupboard. every time. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete." ." he said. Smith. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. in fact the probability. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. was a most unusual sight. Downing appeared. Psmith and Mike. the spectacle of Psmith running. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. Without brain. were friends. Downing. The possibility. he raced down the road. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. "Sit down. and turning in at Outwood's gate. Downing was brisk and peremptory. hurried over to Outwood's. Outwood's at that moment saw what. "Put that thing away. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. left the garden. Psmith. "That thing. where are we? In the soup. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. Mr. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike."If Mr." Psmith sat down again. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. having included both masters in a kindly smile. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. and rose to assist him. he reflected. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. "I wish to look at these boots again. "I can manage without your help. that ridiculous glass. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. with a sigh. and Mr. sir?" "Yes. On arriving at the study." he said to himself approvingly." said the housemaster. The scrutiny irritated Mr. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. if they had but known it. Put it away. too. On this occasion.

The floor could be acquitted." "I think you will find that it is locked. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common. A ball of string. He went through it twice." Mr. patiently. sir. Then he caught sight of the cupboard."Why." "Never mind." "May I read. "Just a few odd trifles. sir?" "Yes." . perhaps. Downing. "Don't sit there staring at me. lodged another complaint. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert. His eye roamed about the room. now thoroughly irritated. This cupboard. of harbouring the quarry. after fidgeting for a few moments." "Thank you." "I was interested in what you were doing. There was very little cover there. sir." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. but each time without success. Nothing of value or interest. sir?" asked Psmith." "Open it. who. sir. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. He rested his elbows on his knees. "Smith!" he said." "I guessed that that was the reason. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while. sir. Possibly an old note-book. sir. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. read if you like. "Yes. Smith. and Mr. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. he stood up. Downing rapped the door irritably." Psmith took up his book again. We do not often use it. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. and his chin on his hands. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way. on sight. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. "Yes. and looked wildly round the room. After the second search.

Downing thought for a moment. And he knew that." "But where is the key. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it. Downing paused. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr. Smith?" he inquired acidly. Outwood. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key." Mr. But when it came to breaking up his furniture. sir. Outwood. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with. sir." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. "Smith. "I don't believe a word of it. to whom that cupboard happens to belong." Mr. I am only the acting manager. you must get his permission. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me. Then he was seized with a happy idea. And I know it's not Mr." Mr. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith. He also reflected." Psmith got up. Jackson might have taken it. if Smith were left alone in the room. perhaps----! On the other hand. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. I shall break open the door. "go and find Mr. Mr. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. staring into vacancy. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile. sir. amazed. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through." he said shortly. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place. Downing stared. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard. "Are you aware whom you are talking to. Outwood. Smith would be alone in the room. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. If you wish to break it open. and ask him to be good . but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. sir. "Yes. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that."Unlock it." he said.

Mr. who resumed the conversation. sir. One cannot. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. If you will go to Mr. "Yes. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. and explain to him how matters stand. I say to myself. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. as who should say. sir." Psmith still made no move." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling." "one cannot. "If you will let me explain. and come back and say to me." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. as if he had been asked a conundrum. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. I would fly to do your bidding. "Thwarted to me face. "Go and find Mr. Downing's voice was steely. "I take my stand. "Let us be reasonable. Outwood.enough to come here for a moment. "Do you intend to disobey me. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . to take a parallel case. "_Quick_. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. I would do the rest." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. however. sir. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say. Outwood at once. Mr. Smith." "What!" "Yes. ha. 'Mr." he continued. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. Smith. But in Mr. Outwood. I ought to have remembered that before. Outwood's house. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. Smith?" Mr." he said. So in my case." he said. If you pressed a button. 'Psmith. His manner was almost too respectful. "on a technical point. your word would be law.

blackening his hand." He took the key from his pocket." said Mr. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. A shower of soot fell into the grate. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face. Downing sharply." "I can assure you. Outwood. He tied the other end of the string to this. He went there. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. sir. "But. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. Placing this in the cupboard. when it had stopped swinging. "Smith." why he should not do so if he wishes it. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear." "H'm!" said Mr.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. at any rate. "Where have you been. Then he turned to the boot. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. and washed off the soot. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. and. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. Outwood with spirit. Mr." added Mr. "Yes." added Psmith pensively to himself. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now. and took out the boot. and with him Mr. When he returned. and thrust it up the chimney. he re-locked the door. Smith. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. Outwood. Smith?" asked Mr." ." Mr. Downing suspiciously." snapped the sleuth. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string. You see my difficulty. "I have been washing my hands. and let the boot swing free. Downing was in the study. the latter looking dazed. as the footsteps died away." "My dear Outwood. he went to the window." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. there will be a boot there when you return. Downing wishes me to do. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. unlocked the cupboard. He noticed with Smith. On a level with the sill the water-pipe. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. "Very well. Outwood. sir. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. Downing stalked out of the room. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. I shall not tell you again.

will you kindly give me your attention for a moment." "If I must explain again. Smith?" "I must have done. Outwood with asperity. "This boot has no paint on it. "Why?" "I don't know why. The wood splintered. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. The cupboard. Mr. Downing was examining his find. sir." said Psmith. with any skeletons it might contain." he added helpfully. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This." said Mr. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint. Let me see. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door." Mr." said Psmith. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith." "It certainly appears." "I wondered where that boot had got to. if you look at it sideways. "You have touched the spot. round-eyed. Outwood. Downing uttered a cry of triumph." he said. Outwood started. Psmith'a expression said." he said. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. Downing seized one of these. and painted my dog Sampson red. glaring at Psmith. my dear fellow."Exactly. and tore the boot from its resting-place. "This is not the boot. "to be free from paint. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. "I told you. "I told you. Mr. He never used them. Now. my dear Outwood." "So with your permission. do you understand?" Mr. approvingly. was open for all to view. "I've been looking for it for days. At any rate. "Objection? None at all. Have you any objection?" Mr. Downing?" interrupted Mr. Downing shortly. Outwood. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. he did." said Psmith sympathetically. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . belonging to Mike. Then. "We must humour him. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. Last night a boy broke out of your house. none at all. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor." "He painted--!" said Mr. "Did you place that boot there. as Smith declares that he has lost the key. sir.

working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. and a thrill went through him." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. Smith?" he asked slowly." "It's been great fun. You have done yourself no good by it. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth.") Mr. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE. he used the sooty hand. and one could imagine him giving Mr." said Psmith patiently." "No. hard knock." he said. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. Apply them. not to have given me all this trouble. "Ah. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. Outwood had the grate. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. Outwood off his feet. He bent down to "Dear me. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. Downing's eye. "Animal spirits. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush. sir. Smith. But his brain was chance remark of Mr. though. A little more. Smith." he said. It should have been done before. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. "I thought as much. "WHAT!" . You were not quite clever enough. nearly knocking Mr. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. Downing a good." "You would have done better. sir. sir. baffled. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods. Downing laughed grimly. Unfortunately. and thrust an arm up into the unknown. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist." argued Psmith. Mr. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment." said Psmith. after all. my dear Watson. but he ignored it. sir. "Fun!" Mr. SMITH?"] "Yes. "We all make mistakes." Mr. He looked up. Downing. once more. from earth to heaven.

the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. Downing had found the other. soap. "You will hear more of this. quite covered. It is positively covered with soot. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. though one can guess roughly. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. * * * * * When they had gone. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." said Psmith. The boot-cupboard was empty. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. until he should have thought out a scheme. "My dear Downing. It seemed to him that. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. at about the same height where Mr. For. just as he was opening his mouth. "your face. and sponges. He went down beneath it." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. "I say you will hear more of it. It would take a lot of cleaning. In the language of the Ring. positively." What Mr. and it had cut into his afternoon. he took the count. and it was improbable that Mr. intervened. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. the boot-boy. most. His fears were realised. for the time being. You are quite black. he went up to the study again. . It was the knock-out." he said. worked in some mysterious cell. sir. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. It had been trying. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect."Animal spirits. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. You must come and wash it. and hauled in the string. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. for a man of refinement." he said. of course." Then he allowed Mr. Edmund. sir. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. Mr. far from the madding crowd. Let me show you the way to my room. accordingly. Psmith went to the window. as he had said. "Soot!" "Your face is covered. he saw. Mr. at the back of the house. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. you present a most curious appearance. Smith. Having restored the basket to its proper place. my dear fellow. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. Outwood. but on the whole it had been worth it. Really.

" replied Edmund to both questions. for instance. I mean--Oh. which one observes naturally and without thinking. "Well. should he prefer them. had no views on the subject.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps." "Well. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. he thought. Edmund. "I may have lost a boot. he should not wear shoes. Mr. Jackson." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. So in the case of boots. if he does. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. if the day is fine. Jackson. sir. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. Psmith was no exception to the rule. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. There is no real reason why. There was nothing. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found. I can still understand sound reasoning. But." he said. So Psmith kept his own counsel. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. "'Ere's one of 'em. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. Mr. thank goodness. the thing creates a perfect sensation. Boys say. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. "No. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not." as much as to say." Edmund turned this over in his mind. to be gained from telling Mike. and then said. "Jones. At a school. Edmund. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. there's the bell. but. "One? What's the good of that. It was not altogether forgetfulness. dash it. "Great Scott. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots.

abuse." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. lines. Jackson?" "Pumps. and the subsequent proceedings. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters. he told him to start translating. with a few exceptions. Downing who gave trouble. yes. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. as worms. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. turning to Stone. Mr. sir?" said Mike. he floundered hopelessly. On one occasion. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. looking on them. as he usually did. Stone. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. Downing's lips.. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. had regarded Mike with respect. Mr. sir. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. He waged war remorselessly against shoes. It was only Mr. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. was taken unawares. and the form. stiffening like a pointer. of a vivid crimson. but they feel it in their bones. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it.. Then. Mike. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. But. He said "Yes. accordingly.. "Yes. called his name." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. "I have lost one of my boots. and finally "That will do. or else to pull one of them off. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. Satire. They cannot see it. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. sir. leaning back against the next row of desks." mechanically. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. Downing.

match on the Wednesday. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast. to wit. and the first American interviewer. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice. His case was complete. "It's all rot. "I don't intend to stick it. and sped to the headmaster. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. Mike's appearance in shoes. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. compared with Mike's. gnawing his bun." "Personally. it is no joke taking a high catch. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. with the explanation that he had lost a boot.C. Downing's mind was in a whirl. which nobody objects to. Downing feel at that moment. he gathered up his gown. I mean. Mike himself. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. in the cool morning air." . As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. "Wal." said Robinson. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn." said Stone. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. In view of the M. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. They played well enough when on the field. yawning and heavy-eyed.C. jumping on board." said Stone. and no strain. As a rule. consequently. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. said. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson." "I shouldn't wonder. Rushing about on an empty stomach. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. and all that sort of thing. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. Mr. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. came to a momentous decision. sir. completed the chain.returned. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance. that searching test of cricket keenness. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. however. Until the sun has really got to work. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game.

turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. Stone and Robinson felt secure. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind."Nor do I. Taking it all round. are easily handled. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. He can't play the M. as they left the shop. If he does. "Let's. The majority. Barnes was among those present. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay. and the chance of making runs greater. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for. with a scratch team.C." "I mean. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. it's such absolute rot. the keenness of those under him. consequently." he said. after all? Only kick us out of the team. With the majority." "Nor do I. Which was not a great help. had no information to give." said Robinson." he said briskly. You two must buck up. then he finds himself in a difficult position. found himself two short. wherever and however made." "I don't think he will kick us out. questioned on the subject. The result of all this was that Adair. As a rule he had ten minutes with the . You were rotten to-day. leaving the two malcontents speechless. Barnes.C. who his right. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. Besides. unless he is a man of action." At this moment Adair came into the shop. either." "Yes. you know. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. he'd better find somebody else. and. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. "Rather. Stone was the first to recover. but in reality he has only one weapon. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. of course. Downing. practically helpless. "at six. At breakfast that morning thought. Mr. And I don't mind that." Their position was a strong one." "All right." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives." And he passed on. what can he do. "He can do what he likes about it.

" "Sorry it bored you. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. physical or moral. "You were rather fed-up. "We decided not to. "Hullo. I suppose?" "That's just the word. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room.daily paper before the bell rang. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. who. We didn't give it the chance to. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. Adair!" "Don't mention it. said nothing." "It didn't. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. not having seen the paper. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself. Stone spoke. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk." Robinson laughed appreciatively. however. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal." said Stone. "Sorry. "I know you didn't. He resolved to interview the absentees." he said. "We didn't turn up. To-day. Many captains might have passed the thing over. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties. ." Adair's manner became ominously calm. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind." "Oh?" "Yes. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold. He never shirked anything. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. who left the lead to Stone in all matters.

All the same. you're going to to-morrow morning." said the junior partner in the firm. but he said it without any deep conviction. if you like. He was up again in a moment. "Right." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No. "I was only thinking of something. So we're all right. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast." said Stone. Nor Robinson?" "No." "I'll give you something else to think about soon." "That'll be a disappointment. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row." said Stone. you can kick us out of the team. "You cad. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for." Stone intervened. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort. We'll play for the school all right. and was standing in the middle of the open space. Shall we go on?" . I'll give you till five past six. I think you are. Adair." "Don't be an ass." "That's only your opinion. and knocked him down. Adair. You won't find me there."What's the joke." "Well. We've told you we aren't going to. with some haste. "It's no good making a row about it. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes." said Robinson. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you." "What!" "Six sharp. but we don't care if you do." "Good. you are now. Robinson?" asked Adair. as you seem to like lying in bed. Of course. You must see that you can't do anything." "You don't think there is? You may be right." said Adair quietly. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. Adair had pushed the table back. Don't be late. "I wasn't ready." "You can turn out if you feel like it. "There's no joke.

even in a confined space. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone. "I'm not particular to a minute or two." said Stone. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. "All right." said Adair." "I'll go and see. "Thanks." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone. and he knew more about the game." Stone made no reply. But science tells. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. "You don't happen to know if he's in. but he was cooler and quicker. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain. How about you. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. He was not altogether a coward. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show. "Thanks. "All right. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction." he said hastily. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table." said Adair. "I'll turn up. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair." "Good. I don't know if he's still there." said Adair. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going .Stone dashed in without a word.

in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. entered the room. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. including Dixon. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. This was one of them. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. everything had gone wrong. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. If only he could have been there to help. In fact." he said.. wrote Strachan. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. Mike mourned over his suffering school. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. And it was at this point. The Ripton match. Which. which had been ebbing during the past few days. Altogether. He's had a . was off. when his resentment was at its height. The Incogs. In school cricket one good batsman. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. fortunately. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering.C. "If you ask my candid opinion. returned with a rush. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable.on below stairs. led by Mike's brother Reggie. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. The M. It might have made all the difference.C. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. said Strachan. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. was hard lines on Ripton. the fast bowler. that Adair. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. looking up from his paper. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. Since this calamity. and went on reading. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. A broken arm. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. * * * * * Psmith. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. Psmith was the first to speak.

the Pride of the School. This is no time for loitering." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice." he said. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner. I bet Long Jack. sitting before you. It won't take long. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson.C." "Fate." . "There are lines on my face. We must Do It Now." said Adair grimly. We must hustle. Promptitude. "has led your footsteps to the right place." "That." said Adair. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight. knave. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing.C." said Adair. We would brood. We must be strenuous. but it was pretty lively while it did. Stone chucked it after the first round. "I'm not the man I was." he sighed. Despatch." said Psmith. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. We----" "Buck up. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. "I'll tell you in a minute. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute. Oh. "is right." said Mike. "We weren't exactly idle. Leave us." said Psmith approvingly. He could not quite follow what all this was about." Mike got up out of his chair. the poacher. after a prolonged inspection. The fact that the M. "It didn't last long. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. Shakespeare. For some reason. dark circles beneath my eyes. "Certainly. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it. I'll none of thee. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. Speed is the key-note of the present age." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour. Adair. too. is waiting there with a sandbag." "What do you want?" said Mike. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks." said Psmith. Care to see the paper. which might possibly be made dear later. "Surely. I thought that you and he were like brothers." Psmith turned away. That is Comrade Jackson. Adair was looking for trouble. go thee.

"So are you. rather." "My eyes. However." he added philosophically. "I'm going to make you." said Psmith from the mantelpiece. He said he wouldn't. He's going to all right." Mike took another step forward." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another." Mike remained silent. isn't it?" "Very. "I am." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. I know. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed." "I don't think so. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think. . to-morrow. and in that second Psmith. "Oh?" said Mike at last. and Adair looked at Mike.?" he asked curiously. so we argued it out. "it's too late to alter that now. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. are you?" said Mike politely. There was an electric silence in the study. and I want you to get some practice. turning to Mike. stepped between them. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit.said Adair.C. You aren't building on it much.C. So is Robinson. Mike said nothing. Mike looked at Adair." said Psmith regretfully.C. "are a bit close together." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes.C. Adair moved to meet him. "I get thinner and thinner. "What makes you think I shall play against the M. turning from the glass. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview." replied Adair with equal courtesy. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning." Mike drew a step closer to Adair." added Adair.

" said Mike. as a rule. In a fight each party. nothing could have prevented him winning. one does not dislike one's opponent. Up to the moment when "time" was called. Dramatically. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. what would have been." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. On the present occasion. In a boxing competition. Directly Psmith called "time."Get out of the light. hates the other. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments. The latter was a clever boxer. with a minute rest in between. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. "will be of three minutes' duration. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. then. In an ordinary contest with the gloves." he said placidly. and are consequently brief and furious. a mere unscientific scramble. I lodge a protest. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. I suppose you must. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. But school fights. only a few yards down the road. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. Are you ready. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. Smith. I don't want all the study furniture smashed." he said. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. one was probably warmly attached to him. "My dear young friends. If Adair had kept away and used his head. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. . It was this that saved Mike. If you really feel that you want to scrap. Time. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. "The rounds. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. without his guiding hand. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. producing a watch. however much one may want to win." After which. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. where you can scrap all night if you want to. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise.

as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. was strange to him. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. the cricketer. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. Jackson. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. He got up slowly and with difficulty. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. but Jackson. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. he knew. if I were you. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. "_He's_ all right. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. I think. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. which would do him no earthly good. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair." "Is he hurt much. coming forward. Then he lurched forward at Mike. Mike could not see this. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. "Brief. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. I shouldn't stop. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. At the same time. now rendered him reckless. that Adair was done." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. He went in at Mike with both hands. . and then Adair went down in a heap. however." said Psmith. I'll look after him. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. thirty seconds from the start. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. If it's going to be continued in our next. Mike Jackson. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. he threw away his advantages. We may take that. and. This finished Adair's chances. so he hit out with all his strength. You go away and pick flowers. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. but with all the science knocked out of him. that there was something to be said for his point of view. "but exciting. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. the deliverer of knock-out blows. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. The Irish blood in him. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon.As it was. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. In the excitement of a fight--which is. He rose full of fight. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. There was a swift exchange of blows. do you think?" asked Mike. Mike had the greater strength. Psmith saw. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. after all. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. The feat presented that interesting person. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see." said Psmith. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. as anybody looking on would have seen. and he was all but knocked out.

if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons. after much earnest thought. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. And as he's leaving at the end of the term. Where.The fight. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him. It's not a bad idea in its way. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. However. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. He's not a bad cove. Jones. We have been chatting. There was a pause. and drained the bad blood out of him. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up. in fact. "Look here. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. why not?" . He had come to this conclusion." "He's all right. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. It shook him up. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way." continued Psmith. had the result which most fights have. to a certain extent.C. when Psmith entered the study. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down." said Mike. if possible. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. of course?" "Of course not. Psmith straightened his tie. My eloquence convinced him. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. "Sha'n't play. not afraid of work. but every one to his taste. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it." he said. to return to the point under discussion. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more." said Mike indignantly. You didn't. As a start. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team.' game. before.C. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath.

Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating." said Psmith. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life." said Psmith. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted." Mike stared." "But you told me you didn't like cricket." "Quite right. _I_ am playing. What Comrade Outwood will say. But when the cricket season came. when I came here." "----Dismiss it. but it was useless." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. I turn out to-morrow. breathing on a coat-button. Last year. and polishing it with his handkerchief." "No. "If your trouble is."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces." "You wrong me. little by little. "my secret sorrow. "You're what? You?" "I. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass. bar rotting. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's." said Psmith. However----" . Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered. and drifted with the stream. I hate to think. I fought against it. Comrade Jackson. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. I do. but it was not to be. And in time the thing becomes a habit. and after a while I gave up the struggle." "You're rotting. Smith. but look here. where was I? Gone. You said you only liked watching it. that I had found a haven of rest. I did think.

The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change. and here was Psmith. He's sprained his wrist. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. Adair won't be there himself. A moment later there was a continuous patter. which had been gathering all day. I'll go round. therefore. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. the recalcitrant. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. but useless to anybody who values life. Psmith whimsically. I'll write a note to Adair now." "That's all right. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do. I'll play.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. He's not playing against the M. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. and ran back to Outwood's. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven. Downing's and going to Adair's study. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. "At this rate. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow. Mike turned up his coat-collar. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match. broke in earnest." "Not a bad scheme. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. But. And they had both worked it off. It's nothing bad.C." he said. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player. "if you're playing. I don't know. A spot of rain fell on his hand. You won't have to. "there won't be a match at all . "By Jove. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. If Psmith. it went. as the storm." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. Then in a flash Mike understood. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance.C." "I say. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop." he said to himself. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. Here was he. wavering on the point of playing for the school. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn." On arriving at Mr. Since the term began. but he read Psmith's mind now. He was not by nature intuitive. Anyhow. Close the door gently after you.

Might be three." "I hate having to hurry over to school. These moments are always difficult. if one didn't hurry." "So do I." * * * * * When the weather decides. They walked on in silence. shouldn't you?" "Not much more. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly. with discoloured buckskin boots." "Beastly." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school." "Oh. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. while figures in mackintoshes. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. Adair fished out his watch. "Right ho!" said Adair." "Beastly nuisance when one does." "Good." " yes. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness. and then the rain began again. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet." Another silence. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping." "I often do cut it rather fine. it does the thing thoroughly. crawl miserably about the field in couples. I should think. So do I. ." "Yes. in the gentle. to show what it can do in another direction. met Adair at Downing's gate. after behaving well for some weeks. Mike. "About nine to. "It's only about ten to. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it." "Yes. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. damp and depressed. though. isn't it?" said Mike. We've got plenty of time. Three if one didn't hurry.

no. just before the match." "Good." "Does it hurt?" "Oh. rot. It looks pretty bad." ." "I bet you I shouldn't. It was only right at the end. no." "Oh. rather not.. "I say. scowling at his toes. "awfully sorry about your wrist.." "What's the time?" asked Mike." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year. Less. we ought to have a jolly good season. Adair produced his watch once more. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week. I say. "Rotten."Beastly day. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully. with his height. "I don't know." "We've heaps of time." "Oh...." "Now that you and Smith are going to play." "Oh. It was my fault." "Oh.. You'd have smashed me anyhow." "Rummy." "Yes." Silence again. probably. thanks. Smith turning out to be a cricketer.." said Mike. that's all right... Jolly hard luck. I say. no." "Oh. "Five to." said Adair. I should think he'd be a hot bowler." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself. rot. doesn't it?" "Rotten." "I bet you anything you like you would." "Yes. that's all right. thanks awfully for saying you'd play.

"I say. "Yes. heaps. that's all right. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. He eluded the pitfall. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh. and blundered into a denunciation of the place. for the second time in two days." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness. So they ought to be." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith. Smith told me you couldn't have done." "No. and come to a small school like this. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. on the Chinese principle. I know. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. . fortunately. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say." "Of course."Yes." "Oh. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition." "I didn't want to play myself. rotten little hole. not playing myself. It was only for a bit. no. really. Mike. I wouldn't have done it. Everybody's as keen as blazes. after the way you've sweated. no." "He never even asked me to get him a place." "It was rotten enough. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. isn't it?" or words to that effect. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings." Adair shuffled awkwardly. I know. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. as it were: for now." "No." "Of course not. "What rot!" he said. even if he had.

but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game."I've always been fairly keen on the place. anyhow. If only we could have given this M. As you're crocked. they're worse." "I don't know that so much. and it would be rather rot playing it without you. with you and Smith." Mike stopped. We sha'n't get a game to-day. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. at the interval." "All right. now that you and Smith are turning out." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair." said Mike. there's the bell. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle." said Adair. "_You_ were all right. They probably aren't sending down much of a team. I got about half a pint down my neck just then. because I'm certain. We've got math. I don't know which I'd least soon be. You've been sweating for years to get the match on. I wish we could play. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn." he said. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. and really. I must have looked rotten. I never thought of it before. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. Dash this rain. who doesn't count." "What! They wouldn't play us. so I don't see anything of him all day. of anything like it. with a grin. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. There's quite decent batting all the way through. You'd better get changed. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. My jaw still aches. "I can't have done." "He isn't a bad sort of chap. and hang about in case. We'd better be moving on. which won't hurt me. lot a really good hammering." . You see. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record." "It might clear before eleven. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. Downing or a black-beetle.C. and the bowling isn't so bad. I've never had the gloves on in my life. Hullo. "By jove. They'd simply laugh at you. then." "You've loosened one of my front teeth. we'd walk into them. we've got a jolly hot lot.C. I'm not sure that I care much. They began to laugh. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. As for the schools. till the interval. when you get to know him." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. "if that's any comfort to you.

after hanging about dismally. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. Downing." Mike changed quickly. Meanwhile.C. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock." said Psmith. You come and have a shot. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. had not confided in him. the captain."Yes. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. "A nuisance. 'Psmith is baffled. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house. and the first Sedleigh _v_. "this incessant demand for you. That's the worst of being popular. To which Adair. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed. edge away. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. and would be glad if Mike would step across. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. match was accordingly scratched. The whisper flies round the clubs. The messenger did not know. without looking up. approaching Adair. Mike. Mr. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. At least. yesterday. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. I had a letter from Strachan. they would. The two teams. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night.C. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. I'm pretty sure they would. We'll smash them. And they aren't strong this year. wandering back to the house.C." said Psmith. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. After which the M.C. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. leaving Psmith. he worked at it both in and out of school. So they've got a vacant date. If he wants you to stop to tea. For the moment I am baffled. Mike and Psmith.'" . The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness." he said at last. and went off. if you like. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning. M. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. regretfully agreed. "By Jove. it seemed. was agitated. with a message that Mr. captain. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh.

"You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. Give you a nice start in life. The thing's a stand-off." said Mike warmly. by the way?" asked Psmith." "_Did_ you." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it." "Evidence!" said Mike." "He thinks I did it." "I know. But." said Psmith. "No. "I didn't. you know all about that. "My dear man. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg. pretty nearly. As far as I can see." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act. He as good as asked me to." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle."The man's an absolute drivelling ass. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. I believe he's off his nut. ." said Mike shortly. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best. "Me. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing. "Which it was. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't. he's been crawling about. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. dash it." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots.

sickening thud. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't." said Psmith. "It _is_. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone. "your boot. Get it over. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER. But what makes him think that the boot." Psmith sighed." "I don't know what the game is. you were with him when he came and looked for them. and reach up the chimney.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. but one's being soled. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. In my simple zeal. I have landed you. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it. Psmith listened attentively." "It is true. ." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. it was like this. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No." "Yes. 'tis not blood." he said mournfully. It is red paint. and glared at it. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. "Say on!" "Well." said Psmith. meaning to save you unpleasantness. if any. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. right in the cart. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. so he thinks it's me." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. and it's nowhere about.Why." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me. That's how he spotted me. with a dull. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him. kneeling beside the fender and groping. and is hiding it somewhere. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily. Be a man. Of course I've got two pairs. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint." said Psmith. It must have been the paint-pot. "Comrade Jackson." said Mike.

in a moment of absent-mindedness. was it?" "Yes. taking it all round." said Psmith. which was me. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me. I suppose not." asked Psmith. or some rot. he must take steps. I shall get landed both ways. If I can't produce this boot. The worst of it is. too. You never know. So. you can't prove an alibi." he admitted. You had better put the case in my hands. "Not for a pretty considerable time. I will think over the matter."This. I say. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing. That was why I rang the alarm bell." "I suppose not. and--well. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. Masters are all whales on confession. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward." said Mike. and forgot all about it? No? No." "Possibly." "_He'll_ want you to confess. then. and try to get something out of me. they're bound to guess why. then. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all." "Sufficient." ." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. I take it. collecting a gang. and go out and watch the dandelions growing. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. "It _is_ a tightish place." Psmith pondered. that was about all. and the chap who painted Sammy. and he said very well. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. I can't. Downing chased me that night. too. when Mike had finished." "Well. and I said I didn't care. I _am_ in the cart. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. I hadn't painted his bally dog. that he is now on the war-path. This needs thought. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. you see." he said. in connection with this painful affair. I hope you'll be able to think of something. by any chance. "quite sufficient. he's certain to think that the chap he chased." "What exactly. inspecting it with disfavour." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it." "Probably. are the same. so to speak. You see.

. sir. Downing shortly. "_You're_ all right. heaved himself up again." With which expert advice." He turned to the small boy. he allowed Mike to go on his way. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. "See how we have trained them. and. He was examining a portrait of Mr." Mike got up." said Psmith. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you." A small boy." suggested Psmith.There was a tap at the door." "Ha!" said Mr. at the same dignified rate of progress. "Is Mr. when the housemaster came in. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage. "All this is very trying. Jackson. Stout denial is the thing. passed away. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. "Tell him to write. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. wrapped in thought." he said. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog. answered the invitation. "Oh. He was." The emissary departed. Don't go in for any airy explanations." said Psmith." "I told you so. it seemed. Thence. Downing. Simply stick to stout denial. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. Come in." said Mr. "that Mr." said Mike to Psmith. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. "Well. "Don't go." said Psmith. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith. "Tell Willie." said Psmith encouragingly. who had just been told it was like his impudence. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. The postman was at the door when he got there. when Psmith. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner. Smith. "They now knock before entering. caught sight of him. I say. "An excellent likeness. sir. You can't beat it. and requested to wait. "Just you keep on saying you're all right. Jackson will be with him in a moment. Downing which hung on the wall." he added. who had leaned back in his chair. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. He had not been gone two minutes.

Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. unsupported by any weighty evidence. Downing had laid before him. The headmaster was just saying. who committed the--who painted my dog. as he sat and looked at Mike. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. Downing. especially if you really are innocent. It was a boy in the same house. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. felt awkward. sir. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. Downing. He could not believe it. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. After the first surprise. it was not Jackson. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. "I do not think you fully realise." said Mr. as a rule. Masters. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. "I would not have interrupted you. Smith. A voice without said." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. As for Psmith . "Mr. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. and the headmaster. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. Mr. It was a kid's trick. but boys nearly always do. Downing to see you. As it happened. The atmosphere was heavy." said Psmith. Jackson. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. but anybody. "No. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. do not realise this. what it got was the dramatic interruption. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt."I did it." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. would have thought it funny at first. sir. except possibly the owner of the dog. "but----" "Not at all.

"Certainly." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. Downing. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. He sat there." said the Head. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. certainly." he said. Jackson." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. Mr. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. It was Adair. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. If Psmith had painted Sammy. Adair." said Mr. "Come in. tell Smith that I should like to see him. Downing----" "It was Dunster. and er--. if you are going back to your house. Mike felt. sir?" he said." "No. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. Adair. what did you wish to say. "Smith!" said the headmaster. or even thankful. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. Downing was saying. This was bound to mean the sack." said the headmaster. when again there was a knock. with calm triumph. sir." "Yes. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. hardly listening to what Mr. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. who was nodding from time to time. "Oh. sir. "Adair!" . Downing leaped in his chair." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. sir.having done it. as if he had been running. So Mr. "Ah. we know--. no. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. looking at Mr. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. if possible." He had reached the door. "May I go. sir. Mr. Downing. Mike simply did not believe it. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom. "Yes. Well. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends.

but he wasn't in the house. His brain was swimming. sir. sir. and that. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. sir." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read." "Smith told you?" said Mr. had played a mean trick on him. I tried to find Mr." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. He has left the school. I'd better tell Mr. sir. But that Adair should inform him. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy. "Adair!" "Yes." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. if Dunster had really painted the dog. two minutes after Mr. that Psmith. Downing. He rolled about. sir. Downing at once. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. sir. he remembered dizzily. was curious. of all people? Dunster. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody." "_Laughed!_" Mr. for a rag--for a joke. Then I met Smith outside the house." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. "Yes." "I see. Why Dunster. It was a . had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. who. "But Adair. sir. Downing's voice was thunderous. was guiltless. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. too. sir. Downing had gone over to see you. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it." said the headmaster.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. perhaps. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. sir. had left the school at Christmas. should be innocent. Well. despite the evidence against him. Downing snorted. "Yes. That Mike." Mr. And why. Downing. in the words of an American author. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. but not particularly startling. and he told me that Mr. He stopped the night in the village. the dog.

" said the headmaster." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner." "H'm. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. pressing a bell. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. Nobody seemed to have anything to say." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient. sir." said Mr. Adair. saying that he would wait. sir?" "Sit down. "Mr. "You wished to see me." "The sergeant." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience. as the butler appeared. . It was not long. feels that some slight apology is expected from him." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair." he said. He was cheerful." "If you please. discreditable thing to have done. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window. If he did not do it. though sure of his welcome. "kindly go across to Mr. "It is still raining. but slightly deprecating. Barlow. He gave the impression of one who. sir." said the headmaster. sir. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr." "Yes. as you would probably wish to see him shortly. sir. Downing. Mr. Outwood's house. sir. Barlow. while it lasted." he observed. but. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking." "Thank you. I suppose. Smith is waiting in the hall. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality. the silence was quite solid." said Mr. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men. Downing." "Another freak of Dunster's." "In the hall!" "Yes. The door was opened. Smith. sir. Ask him to step up. "I shall write to him. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs. He arrived soon after Mr. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure.foolish. Smith.

I do not for a moment wish to pain you. do you remember ever having had." . Downing might I trouble--? Adair. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. sir." He made a motion towards the door." proceeded Psmith placidly." "What!" cried the headmaster. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. "I should like to see you alone for a moment." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. Smith--" began the headmaster. "The craze for notoriety. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. let us say. "Er--Smith." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction. Jackson. "Smith. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities. "It is remarkable. "Smith.Mr. sir. sir. Psmith bent forward encouragingly. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson. but have you--er. when a murder has been committed. "Smith. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair." he replied sadly. Mr. "Er--Smith. as a child. sir. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. Then he went on." "Yes. "The curse of the present age. He paused again." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. there was silence. Downing burst out. When he and Psmith were alone." he said. "how frequently." "But.

and there seemed some danger of his being expelled. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further. "You _are_ the limit. "By no means a bad old sort. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion.. Of course. I shall. "Well?" said Mike." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know. "Well." said the headmaster hurriedly. For the moment. "but." said Adair. never mind that for the present. You are a curious boy. tell nobody... "What's he done?" "Nothing. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him. sir." said Psmith. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. as he walked downstairs." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. Smith. the proper relations boy and--Well. sir----" Privately. Smith." He held out his hand." "I think you are existing between can return to it say. but he said nothing." said Psmith meditatively to himself. sir. sir. Smith. "Not a bad old sort. "Good-night. of course. at last. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting. Good-night. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves. Smith." said the headmaster. sir." "Well." said Psmith cheerfully. and then I tore myself away.." said Psmith. That was the whole thing. of sometimes apt to forget. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr. This is strictly between ourselves.. sir. "It was a very wrong thing to do." . if you do not wish it. Downing's dog." There was a pause. it was like this. We later. "Of course. You think. let me hear what you wish to course. We had a very pleasant chat. then. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr.."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. quite so.

Psmith." "Well." said Mike suddenly. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. "By the way. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson. and that Sedleigh had lost. had only to play out time to make the game theirs." "Oh. who had led on the first innings. "My dear Comrade Jackson. chuck it. I should think they're certain to. and things were going badly for Sedleigh. you're a marvel. Psmith thanked him courteously. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is." said Adair." "And give Comrade Downing." Psmith's expression was one of pain. when you see him. and Wrykyn. In a way one might have said that the game was over. I believe you did. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game." "Well." said Psmith. "my very best love." * * * * * "I say. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_." Psmith moaned." said he. too. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day. all the same. "Good-night." said Mike obstinately. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's. "They've got a vacant date." said Mike. There is a certain type of . for it was a one day match."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing." "What's that?" asked Psmith. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. "And it was jolly good of you. "you wrong me. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner. You make me writhe. I hope the dickens they'll do it." said Adair." said Mike. I'm surprised at you. Adair. They walked on towards the houses.

Wrykyn had then gone in. and . reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. Robinson. He had had no choice but to take first innings. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. but then Wrykyn cricket. and Mike. The weather had been bad for the last week. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. and were clean bowled. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. Sedleigh. It was useless for Adair to tell them. Sedleigh had never been proved. Stone. It was likely to get worse during the day. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. so Adair had chosen to bat first. assisted by Barnes. with the exception of Adair. the Wrykyn slow bowler. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. that Wrykyn were weak this season. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. He had an enormous reach. had played inside one from Bruce. and he had fallen after hitting one batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. for seventy-nine. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. and. a collapse almost invariably ensues. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. and from whom. this in itself was a calamity. with his score at thirty-five. but were not comforted. with Barnes not out sixteen. as a rule. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. Psmith.C. as he did repeatedly. several of them. and the others. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. the team had been all on the jump. July the twentieth. Mike. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. crawled to the wickets. Adair did not suffer from panic. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. Unless the first pair make a really good start. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. the bulwark of the side. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. from time immemorial. declined to hit out at anything. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. Whereas Wrykyn. but his batting was not equal to his bowling.C. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. The team listened. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. on Mike's authority. and he used it. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. playing back to half-volleys. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. Experience counts enormously in school matches. whatever might happen to the others. Ten minutes later the innings was over.

They were playing all the good balls. and he was convinced that. But. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. skied one to Strachan at cover. with an hour all but five minutes to go. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. they felt. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. and after him Robinson and the rest. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. and the collapse ceased. which was Psmith's. having another knock. if they could knock Bruce off. and lashed out stoutly. and refused to hit at the bad. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. And when. two runs later. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. and which he hit into the pavilion. And when Stone came in. So Drummond and Rigby. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. As Mike reached the pavilion. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. It doesn't help my . Changes of bowling had been tried. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. He treated all the bowlers alike. Psmith got the next man stumped. at fifteen. who had taken six wickets. was getting too dangerous. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. when Psmith was bowled. The deficit had been wiped off. A quarter past six struck. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. restored to his proper frame of mind. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. proceeded to play with caution. And they had hit. The time was twenty-five past five. especially Psmith. Seventeen for three. As is usual at this stage of a match. all but a dozen runs. Adair declared the innings closed. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. at any rate. their nervousness had vanished. helped by the wicket.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. as they were crossing over. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. the next pair. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. his slows playing havoc with the tail. who had just reached his fifty. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. But Adair and Psmith. but it was a comfort. had never been easy. Adair bowled him.

Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. the great thing. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game." "I suppose they will. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. you see. Wrykyn will swamp them." said Psmith. and Mike. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn. I'm glad we won. Sedleigh was on top again. playing against Wrykyn. when Adair took the ball from him. Adair will have left. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. and it'll make him happy for weeks. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way. diving to the right. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. and the tail. Five minutes before. was a shade too soon. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. Incidentally. got to it as he was falling. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot.leg-breaks a bit. he's satisfied." said Mike. and five wickets were down." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. because they won't hit at them. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five." "When I last saw Comrade Adair. is to get the thing started. collapsed uncompromisingly. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. I shall have left. "Still." "Yes. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. There were twenty-five minutes to go. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. hitting out." said Psmith. "I say. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. and chucked it up. That's what Adair was so keen on." "He bowled awfully well. As a matter of fact. Still. discussing things in general and the game in particular. "I feel like a beastly renegade. They can get on fixtures with decent . The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. Adair's a jolly good sort. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. The batsman. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. After that the thing was a walk-over. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. "he was going about in a sort of trance.

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